If you are looking for some new and exciting fishing opportunities, you may want to consider blue catfish. You can certainly have some exciting battles trying to lure and catch this species. Below, we will reveal everything that you need to know about this type of fish and where to find it. We will also provide you with some useful fishing techniques, as well as revealing whether or not this is the sort of fish species you can eat.
What is a Blue Catfish?
Blue cats are situated in waters across many states, both inland and coastal. Although they are native to the Rio Grande, Ohio, Missouri, and Mississippi river basins, they have been introduced into a number of other locations, mainly to provide a recreational fishing target. A lot of anglers enjoy fishing for this sort of species because they are savvy and strong fish that represent an excellent challenge.
So, what do blue catfish look like? As the name indicates, their color is a silvery-blue shade, and they have a white belly. Their skin is smooth and does not have any scales. The fish also has a deeply forked tail and a flat dorsal fin. Around their mouth, blue catfish will have four pairs of barbels, which are black and whisker-like in their appearance.
The growth, weight, and size rate will differ in terms of baitfish availability and population density. Throughout the 1800s, there were reports of blue catfish within the Mississippi River that are greater than 350 pounds in weight. However, none of this size has ever been officially caught and weighed.
A lot of people tend to mix up channel catfish and blue catfish, so we are going to take a look at the main differences between the two so you can get a better understanding. The distinguishing feature of the channel cat is the Ictalurus Punctatus, which means fish cat and spotted respectively. Even when a channel catfish is grown to the same size as a blue catfish and is blue in color, the channel catfish is not going to lose its spots, which is something the blue catfish does not have.
One of the most common ways to tell the two fish apart is by counting the number of anal fin rays. Blue catfish can have as many as 30, whereas channel catfish have significantly fewer. They also have different tails. The blue catfish has a pointed tail, whereas a channel catfish has a rounded forked tail. This is a good way to tell the two species apart if you do not have the time to count the anal fin rays.
Where to Fish for Blue Cats
If you are interested in fishing for blue catfish, you will want to know where and when to fish to them. Anglers will be able to catch blue catfish at any point throughout the year. However, the best months do tend to be March, April, and May.
You can also catch these fish at any point in the day. Nevertheless, they do tend to be most active during low-light conditions or at night.
Blue catfish tend to be found in a number of lakes across Southern California mainly. However, the conditions are what really matter. A good place to start is with a tidal creek that fees tributaries, with significant holes or channels.
Blue catfish prefer to be in natural waters that are clean and have plenty of oxygen, such as swiftly flowing streams, but they can also be found in large reservoirs, sluggish streams, lakes, and pounds. Typically, blue catfish live in waters that have rubble, sand, or gravel buttons. They are rarely found in waters with mud bottoms.
In addition to this, you are rarely going to find blue catfish in dense aquatic weeds. They are freshwater fishes natural, but they can also survive in muddy and brackish waters.
Throughout the day, you will find this fish species situated in deep holes, especially in spots that have protection in the form of logs and rocks. Their movement and feeding activity tend to take place in the later hours of the day, i.e. just before the sun rises.
Young blue cats feed in areas that are shallow whole adults will prefer to feed in waters that are deeper, immediately down the stream from sand bars. You will also barely locate any adult blue catfishes moving from one location to another. They tend to be mainly sedentary; the young will move from one location to another, particularly at night when they are feeding.
Blue Catfish Fun Facts
Let’s take a look at some fun and interesting facts regarding blue catfish:
- Length: They are typically less than two feet in length but they can grow up to five feet
- Lifespan: Most blue catfish will live between 9 and 10 years, however, there are some that have lived for as long as 25 years
- Weight: Blue catfish can grow up to 100 pounds.
Blue catfish can also row bigger than 100 pounds. On the Virginia-North Carolina border, one was caught that weighed in at 143 pounds.
You may also be interested to learn that this species is a highly productive one, with high numbers of offspring being created every reproductive cycle. They will spawn once per year from late May into June, typically in smaller tributaries and lower-salinity streams. Females will produce between 4,000 and 8,000 eggs for every kg of body weight, so more than 20,000 eggs could be produced by a 10-pound fish.
Spawning for blue catfish will take place during the summer and spring months when there are optimal water temperatures. The channel and blue cat spawn in temperatures somewhere between 70 and 84 degrees Fahrenheit. In most cases, the speak spawn is April, May, and June. the male will build and guard the nest whereby the eggs will be fertilized. After between six and ten days, the eggs will hatch, depending on the water’s temperatures.
At present, the world record for catching a blue catfish is a weight of 143 pounds, a circumference of 47 inches, and a length of 57 inches. This was reeled in on the 18th of June in 2011 by Nick Anderson. This happened at the John Kerr reservoir. Nick, who is from Greenville, NC, was fishing at the lake commonly referred to as Buggs Island Lake on the border of Virginia and North Carolina.
Top Blue Cat Fishing Lures & Tips
A blue catfish is a voracious feeder, and they will target prey like mussels, blue crabs, crayfish, and shad to reach weights from 40 to more than 100 pounds. While these fish are bottom dwellers, they will also be happy to attack baitfish, as well as different types of prey that are just on top of the water bottom.
There is no denying that blue catfish are highly sought after by anglers because these massive fish are fierce fighters when they are hooked. Blue catfish are determined hunters, which means they are never going to be situated too far away from food.
It is important to be aware of the defense mechanism that blue catfish use. You need to be mindful of this. This is located in their spines or serrated spinal barbs on their dorsal and pectoral fins, which secret toxins.
Of course, you need to master the techniques that are needed. Blue catfish will strike both artificial and live bait. The forage fish or primary fish in the fishery will be the best possible bait to use for this fish. The most successful setup is usually a heavy tackle that has peeler crabs, live herring, shad, and cut bait.
A lot of anglers utilize a bait with a lot of stink, such as a menhaden, mud shad, or cut herring.
Can you eat Blue Catfish?
Last but not least, you will probably want to know whether or not you can eat blue catfish! Just like all catfish species, blue catfish tastes delicious, and so you will often see it served as table fare. A lot of people think that they taste very much like rockfish.
As blue catfish is mainly a southern fish, the best recipes for blue catfish will typically involve frying the fish with Cajun spices and seasoning, ensuring the skin is crisp and tastes amazing. You can find a lot of amazing catfish recipes online to try out.
So there you have it; everything you need to know about the blue catfish and fishing for this species. We hope that this has helped you to get a better understanding of what to expect when fishing for this species and where the best opportunities lie. There is no denying that blue catfish can provide you with a great fight and battle if this is something you are interested in when going fishing. Plus, they taste amazing too!