The channel catfish (Ictalurus punctatus) is North America's most numerous catfish species. It is the official fish of Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, and Tennessee, and is informally referred to as a "channel cat". In the United States, they are the most fished catfish species with around 8 million anglers targeting them per year.
The channel catfish has a deeply forked tail with black spots on its back and sides. Its top and sides vary from gray to slate-blue and are often olive with a yellow sheen. Its body is scaleless, and it has eight barbels (whiskers) around its mouth that serve as taste sensors for locating food. To distinguish between a channel catfish and a blue catfish, look at the anal fin. The anal fin of a channel catfish is round with 24 to 29 rays. The anal fin of a blue catfish has a straight outer edge and 30 to 36 rays.
Young channel catfish feed mainly on plankton and aquatic insect larvae. As they grow older, they feed on aquatic in-vertebrates and small fish. Adults are omnivorous, eating plant material, insect larvae, crayfish, mollusks, small fish and even dead fish. They are bottom feeders and rely on taste buds on their skin and barbels to locate food.
Native to the Mississippi Basin, channel catfish have been introduced throughout the United States. Highly adaptable, they are found in ponds, streams, rivers, lakes and reservoirs throughout North Carolina. Tens of thousands of channel catfish are grown in the agency’s state hatcheries annually and stocked at various Community Fishing Program sites to provide angling opportunities in urban settings.
|Scientific Name:||Ictalurus punctatus|
|Ideal Temp:||75-86ºF (24-30ºC)|
|Lure Type:||Bottom Rig|
|World Record:||26.30 kg (58 lb 0 oz) Santee-Cooper Reservoir, South Carolina, USA 07-Jul-1964|
|Other Names:||channel catfish, channel cat|
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