Post date: Saturday, March 3, 2012 - 17:20
Updated date: 2/8/17
 Ameiurus catus (White Catfish)


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.




White catfish can be found in lakes, rivers, streams, and impoundments, although the classic white catfish habitat is a coastal river, the nearer the mouth, the better. The preferred current speed for white catfish is intermediate between channel cats and bullheads, so look for them in sluggish but not still waters. Overhead cover in the form of rocks or logs is essential - and large tangled-up piles of submerged logs and root wads can be white catfish hotspots. White catfish can be caught day or night.White catfish are very tolerant of brackish water and can often be found in the mouths of rivers, very close to the ocean.



White catfish can be caught on a wide variety of baits - typically baits with a smell to them. Earthworms, nightcrawlers, crickets, liver, cut bait, and shrimp are all good things to try when pursuing these fish. White catfish also respond very well to stinkbait, eagerly consuming such catfish delicacies as rotten shrimp, spoiled meat, or ripe limberger cheese. Commercial dip baits and pelletized blood baits, as well as foul-smelling homemade concoctions of every stripe, are also very effective. Night-fishing efforts are sure to be well-rewarded. Presentations are not particularly important as long as the bait is fairly stationary and fairly near the bottom.


Range Map

Photo Credits:


Photos courtesy of SNOOK99, JKnuth, and Bama_Lia.

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