Freshwater Fish Species
The Catfish family species
Saltwater Fish Species
Yellow Bullhead Fish Identification, its habitats, characteristics, fishing methods.
They are important as a food fish in some areas and are the dominant species in some waters. The creamy flesh is quite good when taken from clean water, it has a great flavor.
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.
The Yellow bullhead, Ameiurus natalis is a species of bullhead catfish. Also known as Butter Cat, Yellow cat, Creek cat, White-whiskered bullhead, Greaser, Polliwog, Chucklehead cat. The yellow bullhead’s natural range is the Atlantic and Gulf Coast watersheds from New York to northern Mexico. They range throughout the central and eastern US from central Texas, north into North Dakota, and east through the Great Lakes region to the east coast.
The yellow bullhead closely resembles the brown bullhead with a squat body and a round or square tail. It is yellow-olive to slate-black above and lighter, often yellow to yellow-olive, on its sides sometimes mottled depending on habitat. The sides are lighter and more yellowish while the the belly may be white, cream or yellow white. The chin barbels lighter, generally white or yellow to buff or pale pink; the upper barbels, which are light to dark-brown, help distinguish this species from
Brown Bullhead. The long anal fin has a straight margin with 23 to 27 rays.
Like the Brown Bullhead, there are 5 to 8 sawlike teeth on the back edges of the pectoral spines. The rear edge of the tail fin may be rounded or nearly straight. Yellow bullheads can live up to 7 years. They average less than 1 lb but can grow to 18 or 19 inches long and weigh up to 3 lbs. The yellow bullhead has a somewhat smaller (8 to 12 inches) and huskier body than a brown bullhead and its tail is rounded rather than square.
The head of the yellow bullhead is broad and flat. The most visible characteristic of the head are the four pairs of barbels. The upper barbels are darker, usually light to dark brown. The lower jaw of the yellow bullhead does not stick out conspicuously.
Habitat and Habits
The preferred habitat is variable and includes vegetated areas of clear, shallow
lakes, ponds, reservoirs, and slow-flowing streams. Yellows are more tolerant of polluted environments than most other members of the catfish family but less tolerant of harmful conditions than the Brown Bullhead. They do not tolerate turbid or muddy waters well and removal of stumps, logs, or vegetation which are needed for spawning cover and will cause a decrease in their numbers.
The yellow bullhead is a voracious scavenger typically feeding at night on a variety of plant and animal material, both live and dead, including small fish, minnows, crayfish, insects, snails, shrimp and worms. Its habitat includes river pools, backwaters, and sluggish current over soft or mildly rocky substrate in creeks, small to larger rivers, and shallow portions of lakes and ponds usually preferring clear water. They also will feed on insect larvae, vegetation and decaying organic matter. Scent and taste play a vital role in their feeding, most of which is done at night.
Habitat can vary greatly, in part because the yellow bullhead is more tolerant of polluted and low-oxygen environments than other types of bullhead. However, they thrive most in shallow lakes, reservoirs, and ponds and slow-moving streams with clear, sluggish water, gravel or rock bottoms and heavy vegetation. They can be found in greatest number in heavily vegetated areas with water temperatures between 75 and 80 F.
Yellow bullheads spawn in spring, usually in May and June, slightly earlier than other bullheads. Both males and females helping to excavate a nest. The nest can range from a shallow depression in the muddy bottom to a 2-foot-deep burrow in the stream or lake bank, usually near protective rocks or stumps under a log or stone. This usually occurs in an area of water 1.5 to 4 feet deep. The females will lay 1,700 to 7,000 eggs, depositing up to 700 at each spawning. The eggs hatch within 5 to 10 days. The care of the sticky, yellowish-white eggs and the hatched fry is the duty primarily of the male, which guards the young fish until they are about two inches long, usually until July or August. Yellow bullheads are omnivores and eat aquatic insect larvae, snails, freshwater clams, crayfish, small fish and other underwater animal life, as well as plant material. They have an excellent sense of smell, which helps them locate food in muddy water.
Easy to catch on cut bait, worms, crickets, doughballs and a wide variety of natural and prepared baits. They can be caught at any time of day, but bite best at night. They are not strong fighters. Anglers often overlook yellow bullhead as a sport fish. However, they are relatively easy to catch and are a popular food fish. Though they can be reeled in throughout the day, they are most easily caught during the night, when they are more actively feeding.
Because taste and smell play such a vital role in their feeding, baits such as cut bait, worms, crickets, doughballs and chicken liver will entice yellow bullhead. An angler may also have success with a variety of other natural and prepared baits.
As scavengers, they are most likely to be located on the bottom. Once hooked, they are not particularly strong fighters, which may be one reason they are not as popular with sport fishermen. However, unlike larger catfish, yellow bullhead will often travel in large schools and can be caught in great numbers, especially at night.
Anglers pursuing fish as a meal should consider the yellow bullhead. The cream colored meat can be tasty, especially when taken from clean water. In fact, it is considered one of the better tasting of the panfish. The only concerns with them as food fish is that they may be soft during the summer and they deteriorate quickly if not properly iced immediately after being caught.
Great rods for Yellow 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