The channel catfish is our most common "pond" catfish and is one of the more abundant river catfish in the region. Notice the deeply forked tail fin and the slightly rounded outer edge of the anal fin. These catfish spawn from May to July when waters warm to 70o to 85o F. Females are able to spawn when they reach approximately 10" to 11", which may take 3 to 4 years (unless they are raised in a fertilized pond or are fed on a regular basis). Channels can attain lengths up to 30" or greater, but these are usually long-lived riverine catfish. Channel catfish are generally bottom feeders and prefer insects, crayfish, fish eggs, and small fish. All catfish feed by smell and taste. Their bodies, fins, and barbel (whiskers) are covered with "taste buds" so they can pick up on smells from a good distance. Most anglers catch channels on cut bait, chicken livers, shrimp, stink baits, crickets, worms, and minnows.
Many of our ponds have been stocked with channel catfish. Several ponds are primarily channel catfish ponds that are fed throughout the growing season. Every year, Fort Stewart hosts a Kid's Fishing Event (KFE) at Pond #30 and Pond #24 at Hunter. We stock 2,000 lbs of 12" - 14" channel catfish prior to each KFE and feed them daily until the event. The pond is closed to fishing after stocking and then reopened on the day of the KFE for children under 16 years of age to enjoy. The day following the KFE, we open the pond to all regular permit holders.
The blue catfish is a river catfish in this part of Georgia. Notice the moderately forked tail fin and the straight outer edge of the anal fin (looks like a barber's comb). This is one of the largest catfish in North America with some attaining a weight of 100 to 120 pounds! These larger catfish are generally limited to larger rivers and large reservoirs. These are the least common catfish in this region but they can be found in the Ogeechee and Canoochee Rivers. Blue catfish spawn from May through July. These night feeders have a similar diet to their channel cousins. They prefer deep holes and undercut banks, submerged timber and brush piles.
The white catfish is probably the most abundant river catfish in this part of Georgia. Notice the slightly forked tail fin and the rounded outer edge of the anal fin. Whites can attain lengths up to 20." The average length may range from 12" to 14" and weigh 0.5 to 1.0 pounds. These catfish primarily feed at dusk or at night, and their diet consists of shad, sunfish and insects. They prefer silty bottom areas of slow flowing streams, deeper holes in coastal rivers, and low salinity estuaries.
Among the numerous bullhead catfish species in the southeast, the yellow bullhead is probably the most common. This fish is found in both lakes and rivers. If it is caught in any of our ponds, please know that we did not stock them. They can easily populate ponds and lakes from adjacent waters and if their numbers get high enough, they can hurt a largemouth bass-bluegill fishery. Notice the white or yellow chin barbels (whiskers) and blunt or rounded tail fin. These fish spawn in May and June and it takes nearly 4 years for this species to reach spawning age. This fish is a scavenger that feeds almost exclusively at night by smell and taste. Foods include small fish, aquatic insects, crayfish, and mollusks. Anglers catch these fish on cut bait, shrimp, worms, crickets and dough balls. They can reach approximately 12" to 14" in length.
Another common bullhead catfish is the black bullhead. Notice the dusky or black chin barbels (whiskers) and blunt or rounded tail fin. These fish spawn from April through June and it takes nearly 4 years for this species to reach spawning age. This species has similar feeding habits as it's yellow cousin. This fish is slightly smaller than the yellow at full size (10 to 11").
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Date of last update: 12/15/2008