The flathead catfish, or "appaloosa cat", is a very controversial fish in the southeast. This fish is not native or "natural" (endemic) to south Atlantic river systems. THIS IS AN INTRODUCED SPECIES! Although this fish has grown in popularity among anglers, it has wreaked havoc to the native redbreast sunfish and native bullhead catfish populations in those rivers where it has been accidentally released or unintentionally stocked. A large flathead catfish has very few natural predators and when they get large, they become fish eating machines! An adult flathead can reach 80 to 100 pounds!
The flathead catfish is currently NOT found on Fort Stewart. It has not been collected in either the Ogeechee or Canoochee Rivers. And the Georgia Department of Natural resources and the Fort Stewart Fish and Wildlife Branch do not want it showing up! The Ogeechee and Canoochee Rivers have some of the best redbreast sunfish and native bullhead fisheries in Georgia! The flathead was somehow released into the Altamaha River (a river system south of Fort Stewart) in the 1950's. The Altamaha used to support an excellent redbreast and bullhead fishery. But today, these two valuable fisheries are nearly gone!
PLEASE, DO NOT RELEASE THIS SPECIES INTO OTHER WATERS. IF YOU SHOULD HAPPEN TO CATCH A FLATHEAD CATFISH IN THE CANOOCHEE OR OGEECHEE RIVERS, PLEASE NOTIFY GEORGIA DNR OR THE FORT STEWART FISH AND WILDLIFE BRANCH.
FLATHEAD CATFISH CHARACTERISTICS:
TAIL FIN (CAUDAL FIN) NOT DEEPLY FORKED, BUT ROUNDED OR SQUARE
• ADIPOSE FIN (SMALL FLESHY FIN ON BACK BETWEEN DORSAL FIN AND TAIL FIN) FREE, NOT FUSED OR CONNECTED TO THE TAIL FIN (CAUDAL FIN)
ANAL RAYS ON THE ANAL FIN LESS THAN 16 IN NUMBER
PATCH OF TEETH IN THE UPPER JAW WITH BACKWARD
LATERAL EXTENSIONS, UNLIKE A BULLHEAD CATFISH
WIDE AND FLAT HEAD; PROJECTING LOWER JAW
• GENERAL COLOR CHARACTERISTICS: YELLOW BROWN TO BLACK ON TOP, PALE GRAY TO WHITE UNDERNEATH AND OFTEN MOTTLED OR SPLOTCHED ON THE SIDES; YOUNGER FISH HAVE WHITE OR PALE TIP ON THE UPPER LOBE OF THE TAIL (CAUDAL) FIN; CHIN BARBELS (WISKERS) ARE WHITE TO YELLOW.
HELP PROTECT YOUR RIVERS AND STREAMS!
Return to top
Date of last update: 12/15/2008