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Catfish and Bullheads - How Big is Big?

Catfish and Bullheads - Record Sizes


The International Game Fish Association (IGFA) recognizes eleven species of catfish for records and an additional three kinds of bullheads for records. I can't tell why they don't call a bullhead a catfish too. They surely do look like one! The IGFA also gives detailed information about all three types of bullheads and about four types of the catfish. All species offer the angler a wide variety of choices to try to catch.

The black bullhead is found naturally from southern Ontario to the Gulf of Mexico between the Appalachian mounts to Montana, and has been introduced in Arizona, California and other western states in the USA, as well as a few east of the Appalachians. Although the three species of bullheads are named by color, they all can vary throughout all the colors. You need a scientific definition to tell them apart but they are all excellent when fried! The record black bullhead weighed an even 8 pounds (3.62 kg) and was caught in New York, USA on August 1, 1951.

Brown bullheads are native to the eastern USA on both sides of the Appalachians and southern Canada but have been introduced in many other places. The species is often stocked in farm ponds since it is so good to eat. It is smaller than the black bullhead with the record at 5 lbs. 8 ozs. (2.49 kg) which was taken on May 22, 1975 in my home state of Georgia, USA.

Even smaller is the yellow bullhead. It is found on both sides of the Appalachians in the eastern USA and has been introduced into other areas. It seems to like more shallow, weedier waters than its other colored cousins. The record weighed 4 lbs. 4 ozs. (1.92 kg) and was caught in Arizona, USA on May 11, 1984.

The list of catfish starts out with the biggest of them all listed as a game fish. The blue catfish is native to the Mississippi, Missouri and Ohio River basin systems in the USA, and south into Mexico and northern Guatemala. It has also been widely stocked in other areas. The record was a monster 109 lb. 4 oz. (49.55 kg) cat taken in South Carolina, USA on March 14, 1991. Bigger blue cats have been caught in non-sporting methods like trotlines and bank hooks and they reach weights over 120 lbs. (54 kg)

Channel catfish are the most common catfish you get in a restaurant. They are raised commercially throughout the world. It now is widespread in the wild all over the USA, southern Canada and northern Mexico. Prized as a sport fish for its fight and a food fish for its taste, it is very popular. The record is a 58 pounder (26.3 kg) caught in South Carolina, USA on July 7, 1964.

Flathead catfish have got to be the ugliest of the cats. They are native to the Mississippi, Missouri and Ohio basins and as far east as Lake Erie and Florida. Its long, wide head gives it the name. Flatheads have become problems in some rivers in Georgia, eating native bream species almost to the point of eliminating the population. The largest flathead landed on rod and reel is a 91 lb. 4 oz. (41.39 kg) monster caught in Texas, USA on March 28, 1982.

White catfish are native to the east coast of the USA from Florida to New York. It is somewhat less nocturnal that other cats and is a popular gamefish. The record 18 lb. 14 oz. (8.56 kg) white cat was caught in Florida, USA on September 21, 1991.

Other catfish records include: Eurasian catfish, 26 lbs. 5 ozs. (12.0 kg) caught in Japan on June 10, 1995; flatwishered cat, 5 lbs, 13 ozs., Brazil on June 28, 1992; gafftopsail catfish, a mostly saltwater species, 8 lbs. 12 ozs. (3.96 kg) caught in Florida, USA on March 30, 1991; gilded cat at 85 lbs. 8 ozs. (38.8 kg) from the Amazon River in Brazil on November 15, 1986; hardhead cat, 3 lbs. 5 ozs. (1.07 kg) from Florida, USA on April 18, 1993; redtail catfish from Brazil, 97 lbs. 7 ozs. (44.2 kg) on July 16, 1988 and the sharptooth catfish weighing 79 lbs. 5 ozs. (36 kg) caught on December 5, 1992 in South Africa.

The IGFA record book also mentions the biggest cat of them all, the wels, which lives in central and eastern Europe and the southern Russia. It may grow to 440 pounds. No record is listed.

For more detailed information about all species of game fish, and records by line class, you can join the IGFA. Each member gets a copy of the annual World Record Gamefishes. All the above records were taken in a sporting manner on rod and reel and met the requirements to be in the record book

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