The white catfish is closely related to the bullheads. You might say the white cat is the granddaddy of bullheads, because they are the largest species in the genus Ameiurus. Tasty to eat and fun to catch, they are a very popular target for fishermen up and down the east coast. White catfish can reach weights up to 20 pounds but fish over ten are extremely rare. They have a forked tail with rounded tips, sides that are grayish and occasionally mottled, white bellies, and a black back. The barbels underneath the mouth are white.
Other Names: White Bullhead, Schuylkill Catfish, Fork-Tailed Catfish, Potomac Catfish, Black Catfish, River Catfish
Barbels and Spiny Fins: White catfish have eight barbels around the mouth - which are used for tasting and smelling the water. The barbels are harmless. However, they also have three sharp spines one at the front of each pectoral and the dorsal fin. Watch out for those spines! The spines can deliver a painful sting - they are coated in an irritant toxin that can cause pain and swelling around the wound. Immersing the wound in water that is as hot as the wounded person can tolerate will detoxify the irritant and relieve the pain.