Category: Pond Fish
Facts about Blue Catfish. "Scientific name Blue Catfish is Ictalurus furcatus". The Blue Catfish are part of the Ictalurus genus. The name Ictalurus means fish cat, the genus for catfish. The species identifier, furcatu, means forked. The blue catfish has a couple of other names it is known by such as the, Mississippi white catfish, Hi-fin blue, Channel Cat, Arkansas blue cat, Hump-back Blue, hump-back blue catfish, Hi-fin blue, Blues, Forked-tailed cat, Chucklehead, Silver cat, Great Blue Cat, Blue fulton, Arkansas cat, Cold boarder, Fulton cat. However, it is not a channel catfish. Channel catfish have a rounded outer margin of the anal fin and fewer rays on the anal fine. Channel catfish have dark spots on the body, especially when young. Blue catfish do not have spots except for a few populations in the Rio Grande river in Texas. In all cases, the Blue Catfish have a straight outer margin of the anal fin. The fish is slate blue on top and has a silver-white body. The Blue Catfish is mostly bluish grey, though they sometimes take on a silvery look. They have four black barbels or “whiskers” around the mouth for detecting prey on the bottom of the river. The blue catfish lacks scales and blue catfish have forked tails.
The Blue Catfish is the largest species of catfish in the United States. Many specimens reach five feet (1.5 meters )in length and 150 pounds (68 kg). The Blue Catfish grow slowly over time, so the largest specimens are close to the twenty year life expectancy. The Blue Catfish reach sexual maturity when 24 inches (60 cm) in length. They usually have 30 to 35 rays on their anal fin. The blue catfish has a wide head and a high spot near the head called a dorsal hump, hence the “hump back” nicknames for the species.
Blue catfish in the Rio Grande River have dark spots on their sides and back.
Blue catfish were originally homed in the Mississippi river and its tributaries (a stream that flows to a larger stream or other body of water). The Blue Catfish were present in Texas rivers except for the Red River and other rivers in the Texas panhandle but have since been introduced there. The blue catfish have been introduced across the United States, such as to reservoirs in North and South Carolina, twenty states to date. Those introduced to the Chesapeake in the 1970s are now considered an invasive species.
Blue catfish are predators. They eat anything they can get a hold of, such as crawfish, mussels, frogs, shad, worms, river herring, minnows, insect larva and anything else they can get. Blue catfish that are eight inches (20 cm) and larger eat smaller fish and large invertebrates. Blue Catfish will sometimes swim underneath feeding bass to eat their leavings. They can also eat plant matter.
Blue Catfish prefer deeper waters but will swim in water as shallow as one foot (.3 cm) deep. These are large river fish, living in tributaries and main channels of the river. Blue catfish prefer sandy bottomed rivers and swift currents but can tolerate many water conditions. They often migrate upstream in summer to find cooler water and migrate downstream or south for warmer water in winter.
Blue catfish are the largest freshwater sport fish in Texas and several other states. The best time to catch the Blue Catfish is between March and May, but they can be caught year round. They eat cut bait, live bait and even stink bait. While caught for sport, they are also eaten. States use fishing licenses to control their numbers because the adult catfish have few predators.
Most blue catfish do not mature sexually till they reach 24 inches (60 cm) in length. The spawning season for Blue catfish runs from June to early July when water temperatures first reach 70 to 75 F (21 to 23 cel). They prefer to spawn in dark, isolated locations alike to those they live in. Blue catfish spawn usually in smaller tributaries. Females can produce thousands of eggs each year. The parents build nests for the eggs, which both parents protect. The young Blue Catfish often form schools for protection from those that would eat them.