Freshwater Fish Species
The Catfish family species
Saltwater Fish Species
Black Bullhead Fish Identification, its habitats, characteristics, fishing methods.
Black Bullheads are the most tolerant of muddy water and the smallest compare to
Brown Bullhead or
Yellow Bullhead. They often hybridize with brown bullheads and in many reservoirs the hybrids are more common than either parent species. The Black Bullhead is an opportunistic bottom-feeder, eating fishes, many types of invertebrates, plant matter, and detritus. The species spawns from late spring to early summer; nests and young are guarded by parents. The black bullhead prefers the warm, slow-moving, turbid habitat provided by small water bodies and backwaters. Simple techniques, such as fishing on the bottom with worms or live cutup baitfish, are very productive.
A combination of understanding the fish and the techniques used to catch them will help you to hook more fish to the end of your line. Better knowing and understanding of the fish that you are trying to catch will make you a more successful angler, whether you are fishing for trout on a river or surfing on the beach or trolling on the open water.
Black Bullhead – Ameiurus melas, also known as Bullhead, Common Bullhead, Yellow-belly Bullhead, Small Bullhead, Horned Pout, Brown Catfish, Catfish, Stinger, River Snapper. The native range extends from North Dakota eastward through southern Canada from Ontario through the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River and southward and westward to Texas and northern Mexico. It occurs from Montana in the west to the Appalachians in the east, and has been introduced into Arizona, California, and various other western states as well as a few states east of the Appalachians.
The Black Bullhead has a stout body, dark chin barbells, dark on top and pale on the belly with a pale vertical bar at the base of the caudal fin. They have a straight edge to the back of the pectoral spines, and a square tail. They have a small eyes and the shortest anal fin of the other bullhead species, depressed head, slightly inferior mouth. The upper jaw is slightly longer than the lower jaw. The biggest difference between the two is that black bullheads usually lack the color mottling found on the sides of
The Black Bullhead may be dark green, olive, brown, yellowish-green, or black on top, green or gold on the sides, and cream white or bright yellow belly. It has stout body; chin barbels are dark and may be gray, black, or black-spotted, never white. It is dark on top and pale on the belly with a pale vertical bar at the base of the caudal fin. The anal fin has 17-21 rays. Adults have a golden-yellow belly while the juveniles have a white belly, Square tipped, slightly notched tail, Short, round anal fin with dark membranes and 19-23 light fin rays, Pectoral fins have a spine of varying roughness, 15-21 gill rakers on the first arch. The base of their four chin barbels are black or brown and can be entirely black or brown.
Average adult weights in the 1 to 2 lb range, and almost never as large as 8 lb. Maximum Length: 8-15 inches (20-38 cm).
Habitat and Habits
The Black Bullhead is most common in warm, shallow turbid (muddy), slow-moving waters with little or no aquatic vegetation. They have the ability to thrive in waters that are low in oxygen, brackish, turbid and/or very warm. It is more tolerant than other catfish of muddy water, soft bottoms, and pollution. It tends to favor deeper water in larger rivers and reservoirs, but will make feeding and spawning forays into relatively shallow water.
Averaging eight to ten inches long, the black bullhead is the smallest of bullheads. It is even tougher than the brown bullhead and can withstand extremely high water temperatures and silty conditions. The black bullhead thrives in a variety of habitats, including lakes and ponds with low oxygen and/or muddy conditions. The black bullhead is an opportunistic bottom-feeder, eating fishes, many types of invertebrates, plant matter, and detritus. They eat insects, leeches, snails, fish, clams, and many plants. They are also known to eat corn, which can be used as bait. Like the brown bullhead, the black bullhead is usually not found in cold, clear water, preferring the silty water areas of ponds, sluggish creeks and rivers. It does not live in the same areas as brown or yellow bullheads, but sometimes will replace those species if the habitat worsens.
Spawning occurs in May and June as a rule, with eggs deposited in a nest usually adjacent to a submerged object. One or both parents take part in building the nest, and take turns caring for the eggs, which may number 2,000 to 4,000 and hatch in five to 10 days. The male guards the eggs and fry.
Black Bullheads are an extremely popular sport fish that, like the bluegill. Adults stay hidden under the cover of vegetation beds during the day but will come out to scour the bottom for food after dark. They are an omnivorous species that will eat nearly anything they can find. This includes aquatic insects, crustaceans, mollusks, and even earthworms and terrestrial insects when water levels have risen over previously dry land. Black bullheads are feeding primarily from the bottom on a wide range of plant and animal material, both live and dead.
Black Bullhead can be caught using cut up or dead baits, and even stinkbaits, it will also respond well to live baits, with live river herring and shad usually a top choice followed by large shiner minnows, sunfish, suckers, and carp. All of the above baits can be used as fresh cut baits with good success and freshwater drum also work well in this capacity. To catch Black bullheads in rivers the more current the better usually, although fishing along current edges and breaks is often a good option. Cut bait, "stink" baits, small crayfish, worms and leeches can be used to catch these fish. Like most catfish, they are most active during the night and tend to be less active and bed under piers or in shady shore areas during the day. It is considered excellent as a food fish.
One of the best ways to rig up to fish for bullhead is to cast out with just a worm on your hook and no weight or sinker of any kind. This lets the bait settle naturally on the bottom. Sinkers are often used to enable casting farther distances, or to get the bait to sink faster, however with bullhead this is usually unnecessary. Bullhead can be caught from very close to shore, which makes them a good fish for kids to catch.
Another good method for catching bullhead is to use a bobber a few feet above the hook. This allows the bait to suspend slightly above the bottom of the lake, allowing the bait to be more easily seen by catfish and other species as well.
Bullhead catfish can occasionally hit lures but the most common way to fish for them is by using bait. Bullheads will readily take a nightcrawler fished on the bottom. They will also occasionally bite on small chunks of minnow or other fish meat for bait. The best bait for Black bullheads is the regular earthworm.
Great rods for Black Bullhead fishing are:
11 ft Light Casting Rod
13 ft Tele Casting Rod
12ft Casting Fishing Rod
15 ft Telescopic Fishing Surf Casting Rod
18ft Telescopic Surf Casting Rod
4.5m Telescopic Surf Casting Rod
15 ft Telescopic Surf Casting Rod 98% Carbon