Freshwater Fish Species
The Catfish family species
Saltwater Fish Species
Blue catfish Fish Identification, its habitats, characteristics, fishing methods.
Blue catfish can be found in all types of water including ponds, streams, lakes and major rivers or impoundments fed by large tributaries. There are even can spend some time on dry land. Big blue catfish are hiding in empty logs or undercuts in structures. Blue catfish feed on fish, mollusks, frogs, crayfish and large invertebrates. They find food more by use of their fanatical sense of smell. You can use anything from live shiners to cut bait and stink baits to catch these species. The best time of the year for a Blue Catfish is any time from November to Early March. Blue catfish are often sought after by anglers for large size and their obstinacy and strong fighting nature. Once they have hooked a blue the angler will have a long tough battle that makes the blue catfish challenging to land. The blue catfish is considered an excellent food and game fish; it is a strong, well-toned fish with a fine, delicate 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 Blue Catfish - Ictalurus furcatus, family Ictaluridae, also known as Channel Cat, Hump-back Blue, Forktail Cat, Great Blue Cat, Silver Cat, Chucklehead Cat, Blue Fulton. They are native in the Mississippi, Missouri, and Ohio Rivers and their large tributaries. It is confined to the major rivers, extending north into South Dakota and southern Minnesota, and south through Texas into Mexico and northern Guatemala east to the Appalachians. It has been introduced into Virginia, South Carolina and Illinois.
The body of the Blue Catfish is round heavy with a flat belly. Wide head with upper jaw projects well beyond the lower. As they grow larger they develop a distinct hump (dorsal hump) on the back near the front of the dorsal fin. They have whiskers around the mouth and a forked tail looked like trimmed with scissors. The blue catfish, the channel catfish, and the white catfish are the only three catfishes in the USA that have noticeably forked tails. The blue catfish has longer anal fin, which has a more even depth and a straighter margin than in the Channel and
White catfish, channel catfish have more rounded fin. There are 30-36 rays in the anal fin near equal length, (24-30 rays in the channel catfish) and (19-23 rays in the white catfish). The blue catfish have 3 chambers in the swim internal air bladder; the channel catfish have only 2 chambers. The blue cat’s head is larger and rounder than the channel cat’s head.
The coloring is mainly blue-gray, but they rarely could have silver colored body. The belly is white at the very bottom. Their skin is smooth with no scales. This is the largest catfish, can grow up to 120 lb (54 kg). The only larger catfish is the Wels (Russia, up to 440 lb).
Habitat and Habits
Blue catfish are a warm-water large-river fish found primarily in main channels, tributaries, and large rivers and lakes. But they also can inhabit in streams, small rivers and some natural lakes and ponds. The Blue Catfish prefers clean non-turbid rivers with a relatively swift current flow, which distinguish them from channel and flathead catfish. They prefer water temperature from 70 to 82°F. They are moving upstream in the summer into the cooler water temperatures, and downstream in the winter looking for warmer water. Blue catfish prefer deeper water in larger rivers and reservoirs that have a moderate to strong current, but for feeding and spawning they are moving into the shallow swift water. Within these areas, Blue catfish are looking for deep holes with abundant cover that provide relief from strong currents outside bends in rivers, creek mouths and discharges. But they will move up to swift water to feed, primarily at night.
In large reservoirs, they are looking for deep, secluded areas with plenty of brush and other cover. The absence of current in many reservoirs causes Blue catfish to cover more water when searching for food, even in shallow water during peak feeding periods. Mostly they are looking for areas that provide both the security of deep water and the easy access to shallow feeding areas.
Blue catfish are night feeders. They search for most of their food on or near the bottom. Their barbells (whiskers) give these fish a strong sense of smell, which help to locate a food. They prefer small fish, crayfish, frogs, clams, mussels, and insects but basically will eat nearly anything that is available, consume both live and dead organisms. Large blue catfish often feed exclusively on other fish.
They spawn in late spring and early summer, starting in June and continue to early July when water temperatures warm up to 70 - 75 °F. They prefer to spawn in dark, quiet locations. Males and females are building a nest together before depositing and fertilizing their eggs. Eggs are laid in masses in nests formed under hollow logs or large holes, near other flooded structure or near the undercut river banks.
The young are hatch in about one week and the male will guard them for a week or so at the nest. Then the fry, soon after birth, will swim away and be on their own way. It prefers clean, swift-moving waters where it feeds primarily on fish and crayfish. By the end of their first year, they will reach 2.25 to 4 inches in length.
Blue catfish are a popular sport and commercial fish. Fish is very large, with strong fighting nature. Anglers can catch blue catfish with a rod and reel or by the use of trotlines, jug lines or limb lines. The white meat is tender and delicate.
Because they rely heavily on their sense of smell when feeding, most anglers use bait with a strong odor. In addition, because they are such a large fish, the bait should be invitingly large. Blue catfish will take a wide variety of bait and are not particular about whether the bait is alive or dead.
General live baits include large minnows, crayfish, frogs, green sunfish and bluegills. Other popular baits include cut shad, chicken or turkey livers, cheese bait, fish entrails, “stink” bait and other baits with extremely strong, pungent odors. Blue catfish rarely strike artificial lures, the only way they may be caught on lures that look like natural forage.
For fishing blue catfish recommended using heavy tackle, like saltwater tackle – stout rods, strong reels and heavy line. Once a large blue catfish is hooked, the angler will often have a long and difficult fight ahead. A combination of determination and strength makes the blue catfish challenging to land or boat.
Cut ups, or dead baits, and even “stink bait” an excellent choice to target Blue catfish. 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. When young they will feed on aquatic insects and small fish, as they grow they will eat crayfish, mussels and other fish. They will rarely bite artificial bait they are not picky as to whether the bait is live bait or dead. The blue cat fish prefers bait with strong odor the stronger the better, therefore many anglers use “stink bait” chicken and turkey livers and cheese work well. It is important to use strong equipment when in pursuit of this robust species. The white meat of this fish is tender and delicate and is often marketed commercially. Blue catfish are often sought after by anglers for not only their size but for their stubbornness and fighting nature as well. Once they have hooked a blue the angler will have a long tough battle. This is due not only to the size but their strength and determination as well. The blue catfish is considered an excellent food and game fish; it is a strong, well-toned fish with a fine, delicate flavor.
The world record blue cat fish weighted in at around 124 pounds. Biologists believe they can reach 150 pounds and there have long been rumors of some as large as 300 to 350 pounds though none this large have ever been caught and officially weighed.
Great rods for Blue catfish 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