Catfish, blue

(Ictalurus furcatus)

(Lesueur, 1840); ICTALURIDAE FAMILY; also known as bagre azul

This native species of the Mississippi, Missouri, and Ohio River basin systems frequents deep areas of large rivers, swift chutes, and pools with swift currents. It is confined to the major rivers of the aforementioned systems, extending north into South Dakota and southern Minnesota, and south into Mexico and northern Guatemala. It has been introduced into Virginia.

This is the largest catfish of the family Ictaluridae, reported to grow to 120 lb (54 kg). The only larger catfish is the wels (Silurus glanis), a member of the Siluridae family, which is found in central and eastern Europe and southern Russia, and may grow to 440 lb (200 kg). The blue catfish, the channel catfish (Ictalurus punctatus), and the white catfish (Ameiurus catus) are the only three catfishes in the U.S.A. that have distinctly forked tails, setting them apart from the bullheads and the flathead catfish (Pylodictis olivaris), which have squarish or slightly emarginate tails. The blue catfish can be distinguished from the channel and white catfish by its noticeably longer anal fin, which has a more even depth and a straighter edge than in the other two species. There are 30 36 rays in the fin, versus 24 30 rays in the channel catfish and 19 23 rays in the white catfish. Internally, the blue catfish can be identified by the fact that it has three chambers in the swim bladder, whereas the channel catfish has two chambers. All three forked tail species may be almost uniformly pale blue or silvery in color, though white catfish may show a more distinct difference between the bluish back and white belly. Channel catfish frequently have spots.

The blue catfish is considered an excellent food and game fish. It prefers clean, swift moving waters where it feeds primarily on fish and crayfish. It is a strong, well toned fish with a fine, delicate flavor

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Current All Tackle Record

143 lbs. 0 ounces.

Similar Species


Catfish, channel