Common Names - channel cat, hump-back blue, forktail cat,
great blue cat, silver cat, chucklehead cat, blue fulton
Description - Adult fish have stout bodies with
prominently humped backs in front of the dorsal fin. They resemble
channel catfish by having deeply forked tails, but are dissimilar
because they are unspotted and have a long, straight-edged anal fin
with 30 to 35 rays. The back and upper sides are blue to slate gray,
and the lower sides and belly are white. The internal air bladder has
a constriction in the middle, giving it a two-chambered appearance.
Subspecies - There are no recognized subspecies. They are
known to naturally hybridize with channel catfish. The channel-blue
hybrid is popular among aquaculturists.
Range - Originally found in the Escambia and Yellow rivers in
northwest Florida, they are now also in the Apalachicola and Suwannee. Blues were first officially recorded in 1990 by
Florida Game and Fresh Water Commission biologists despite reports
that anglers had been catching blues for many years.
Habitat - Blues occur in big rivers and in the lower
reaches of major tributaries. They prefer clearer, swifter water than
other catfish, and are usually found over sand, gravel or rock
bottoms. Their preferred water temperature is 77 to 82 degrees.
Spawning Habits - Spawning and nesting behavior is similar
to others of its family. In late spring, males commonly choose and
clear a nest site, usually in drift piles, logs, root systems or
other dark, secluded areas near the bank. The eggs hatch in about a
week, and males guard the fry in the nest until they swim away a week
or so later.
Feeding Habits - Young blues eat aquatic insects and small
fish while larger blues prefer crayfish, mussels and other fish. They
feed primarily at night.
Age and Growth - Blue catfish grow faster and live longer
than channel catfish. They are the largest member of the catfish
family. Blues may grow to lengths of over 55 inches and may weigh
more than 100 pounds. Maximum life span for blues is unknown but is
probably 20-25 years.
Sporting Qualities - One of the strongest freshwater fish;
blues are caught on bush hooks or trotlines as well as rod and reel.
The most effective baits are cut fish, live fish and nightcrawlers.
They also will take prepared and rotting baits. Most are caught while
bottom fishing with cut fish, rigged on large hooks weighted down by
heavy lead sinkers. Since they can also be taken by commercial
fishermen, no specifics portfishing regulations
currently apply but they are eligible for the "Big Catch" program.
NOTE: Blue catfish are restricted as being potentially detrimental
to the natural ecosystem if they were moved from their current range into
other water bodies and should not be transported alive.
Eating Quality - Considered an excellent food fish with
white, firm, delicately flavored flesh.
Records - World Record: 109.25 pounds, caught in the
Cooper River, Moncks Corner, South Carolina, in 1991. State Record: 61.5 pounds , caught in the
Escambia River, Escambia County, in 1996.
|2007 CHANNEL CATFISH|