Catfish are not strictly a species of bottom dwellers. Contrary to popular belief, catfish are not confined to feed off of the water's bottom. These mega cats are quite a complex species of fish that actually feed throughout the entire column of water including the surface. Thus, do not focus solely on fishing the bottom for catfish as you would be robbing yourself of opportunity.
Catfish are not a nocturnal species and in turn anglers are not required to fish for them at night. It is possible to catch just as many catfish during the daylight hours as it is during nighttime hours.
There is an age old myth floating around that catfish are only attracted to stinky bait. This could not be farther from the truth as catfish scavenge for an assortment of feed daily. While Channel Catfishes and even Heavyweight Blues enjoy a stinky bait every now and then, they are most certainly attracted to a variety of other feed. However, stinky bait will work against you when fishing for Flatheads and larger channel catfishes as they dislike pre packaged stinky bait.
Catfish do not sting. Their fins do not sting, their whiskers do not sting, and their skin will not hurt you. Although, smaller catfish do have extremely sharp fins that have the ability to penetrate the skin. In short, handle catfish with caution as fin cuts otherwise known as being ‘finned' can cause a burning sensation.
If you do happen to get ‘finned' there is a simple and sure fire way to stop the burning easily. Once finned, immediately turn the catfish over and rub your cut on the belly of the fish for a short period of time. The slime from the belly has enzymes that will counteract the burning sensation and stop the discomfort almost instantaneously.
There are three major species of catfish - Heavyweight Blues, Channel Catfishes, and Flathead Catfish - which are sought after annually by many United States anglers. While these mega cats are similar in several ways, they are also very different. In order to be successful at angling these whiskered warriors one must understand all of their similarities and differences to correctly approach the species desired. Keep in mind that all three major species of catfish are highly skilled predators.
Heavyweight Blues are located throughout the United States and are the most desired species to angle. These cats grow extremely large and are quite tough to catch as they fight hard and dirty. Many prefer to catch Heavyweight Blues as the majority of the species grows over trophy size and are typically presented in higher numbers for better fishing opportunity. Heavyweight Blues can be identified by their slate gray to blue coloring and by their straight/falt anal fin. If you are still unsure if your whiskered warrior is a Heavyweight Blue or Channel Cat make sure to count the anal fin rays as Blues have between 30 to 36 rays.
Channel Catfishes are not only the most widely distributed catfish in the United States, they are also the most abundant. Plus, Channel Catfishes offer anglers an excellent fishing opportunity as they are the easiest to consistently catch without the utilization of specialized gear. Channel catfishes can be identified through their spotted olive brown to grey coloring and anal fin curve out that contains 24 to 29 rays.
Flatheads are the toughest catfish species to catch as they put up a fierce fight. While they are to believed to be a slower fish they do produce a lot of activity and it is best to focus on catching very few large flathead catfish in a day's time. Flathead Catfish can be identified by their flat tail and prominent underbite.
Finding a High Fin Blue Catfish is like discovering a unicorn. Keep in mind that High Fin Blues are the same species as the Heavyweight blues but they contain higher fins, hence the titling.
Locating a Mississippi White Catfish is a lot like discovering a High Fin Blue as they are both of unicorn status. While Mississippi Whites are truly just Heavyweight Blues with lighter coloring, they are scarce and extremely beautiful.
Catfish skin can change colors making it highly possible for two fish of the same exact species to look entirely different. This fact is especially true of the Heavyweight Blue species. Heavyweights blue that are constantly exposed to light due to shallow waters will be darker, while Blues that live in deeper waters will be lighter in coloring. The Mississippi Whites coloring comes from swimming in muddy and cold stained waters.
Male catfish tend to have larger heads, smaller bodies, and more muscularly developed backs when compared to its female counterpart. Males are also more pronounced during spawning season.
Despite being often regarded as unsophisticated bottom dwellers, catfish are actually very adepth fish that have advanced sense of taste, smell, and sound. They hold the ability to detect sound, vibration, and smell far better than several other species of fish.
Surprisingly, the entire body of a catfish is covered in taste buds and holds a high concentration of whiskers aka barbels around the mouth estimating the catfish body to have more than 250,000 tastebuds in total. Just image the catfish as one giant swimming tongue.
The massive number of tissue folds within a catfish's nostril is believed to be the deciding factor behind the species keen sense of smell. Researchers have found the fish to contain an average of 140 folds per nostril which is 127 more than the common base which holds 13 folds per nostril. Catfish are also believed to have special compounds within their nostrils that can detect one part in one 10 billion parts of aqua.
One little known fact about catfish is that their body weight is equal to water's density. Thus, there is no need for the catfish to host external ears. Instead, catfish have inner ears independent from the swim bladder.
Catfish are special because sound waves travel through them. Sound Waves travel through catfish by their swim bladder which then transmit the sense to the otolith and from the otolith to the separate inner ear. These vibrations are then processed by the catfish's brain heightening their ability to detect higher frequencies making catfish one of the only species able to sense earthquakes.
While Bass may be able to detect high frequencies from the 20 to 1,000 cycle per second grouping, catfish can impressively enough detect higher frequencies from the 13,000 cycle per second grouping. Catfish also detect lower frequencies but from a series of small pores located along both sides of the fish that contain cells with special hairlike projections. These unique projections move with water displacement which stimulates their nerves sending a signal to the brain measuring lower frequency vibrations.
Catfish can see, they actually have extremely keen eyesight. They are just adept at biting lures and baits no matter how big or small.
While catfish may not sting, it is best to completely avoid their dorsal and pectoral fins as these fins are both extremely sharp and hold the ability to penetrate the skin easily. Thus, it is best to handle a catfish by firmly gripping their back behind the dorsal and pectoral fins.