Channel Catfish

Original range was the central drainages of the U.S. to Southern Canada and Northern Mexico. Introduced to Arizona in 1903. Scattered black spots on a silver or gray colored back and sides with a white belly.

  • Common Name:

    Channel Catfish

  • Scientific Name:

    Ictalurus punctatus

  • Weight:

    12 ozs - over 15 lbs

  • Size:

    10-39 inches

  • Where to See:

    Found in most warm water lakes and rivers. Inhabit deeper stretches of rivers


Channel catfish have few spots on the large adults. Smooth, scaleless skin. Four pair of barbels or ‘whiskers.’ Short base on small adipose fin. Deeply forked tail. Anal fin has 24 to 30 rays and is slightly rounded. These fish are often mistaken by fishermen as another species such as a blue catfish.

Spawns from April through early June. Gelatinous egg mass is laid in a hole or a cavity, generally in rocky areas. These eggs are guarded by the male alone. The male also guards their young for a time. During the reproductive season, the male assumes a darker body color, often bluish or blue-black and develops thickened lips and bulging forehead.

More About Channel Catfish

As scavengers, channel catfish will eat almost anything, dead or alive. They prefer minnows, crayfish, and aquatic insects or invertebrates.
Effective baits are waterdogs, liver, blood bait, shad, hot dogs, minnows and worms. Contrary to myth, the “whiskers” are harmless to touch and used only to smell, taste and feel as it forages for food. However, the dorsal fin and pectoral fins have a sharp spine which can inflict a painful wound. In rivers, fish swift riffles at night with light tackle.
Table Quality
The meat is white, firm, tender and sweet and is considered very good eating.

Our Mission

To conserve Arizona’s diverse wildlife resources and manage for safe, compatible outdoor recreation opportunities for current and future generations.

Fishing Regulations

Rules and regulations for fishing in Arizona.

Subscribe to our Newsletter