Channel Catfish: Ictalurus punctatus
Catfish are easy to distinguish by their whisker-like sensory barbels and a forked tail. Channel catfish have a rounded anal fin and scattered black spots along their back and sides. Males become especially dark during spawning season and develop a thickened pad on their head.
Channel catfish are found throughout Florida, and spawn in holes and crevices.
Primarily bottom feeders, channels also feed higher up. Major foods are aquatic insects, crayfish, mollusks, crustaceans and fish - not detritus or decaying material.
State Record: 44.50 lbs.
Big Catch minimum: 25 inches or 12.0 lbs.
Fishing Tips and Facts: Catfish are a staple for anglers who eat their catch. Use baits with strong odors: chicken liver or gizzards, shrimp, cut mullet and commercial stinkbaits. Catfish are most active just before dusk and at night. Fish on the bottom with a sturdy #2 to #4 hook and a heavy split shot sinker. Be careful of sharp spines when handling these fish. The FWC stocks 200,000-300,000 annually in public waters.
Image Credit: Duane Raver, Jr.