About Channel Catfish

In North America, the most common catfish is the Channel catfish. They are so numerous that Tennessee, Iowa, Missouri, and Nebraska have all named it as their official fish. But what separates them from other catfish species?


The most distinctive features that you will notice when comparing Channel catfish to others is a forked tail and dark spots scattered around the body. They also have smaller heads and are noticeably more slender than other species of catfish when comparing side by side. Even with their more slender body, however, they can still grow to more than fifty pounds. The final distinguishing feature is the anal fin, which will have between 24 and 29 rays.

catfish-species-colors-jet-ski-fishingWhile riding your jetski you can find the location and environment that it lives in will affect the color of Channel catfish. One of the most common colors is a gray, or grayish-brown color with dark green or brown dorsal fins. You can also find Channel cats in pale olive and pale blue with silver tints and yellow and green colors. Finally, these fish can also be albino, with cream or white colored skin and pink eyes. You will notice that males will have dorsal fins that are completely silver, light blue, dark blue, or black during spawning seasons. All Channel Catfish also have long barbs on their face, which are frequently referred to as whiskers or feelers.


Channel catfish are native to fresh water areas, including reservoirs, lakes, streams, ponds, and rivers. They will usually choose a location with good breeding areas, an adequate food supply, and fairly warm temperatures. Channel cats prefer to build nests for spawning in hidden, hollow logs, rock ledges, and undercut banks, so the presence of these features may indicate a good area to look for catfish. This species also prefer to stay out of the current, so you should fish for catfish near beaver dams, muskrat burrows, log jams, lakeshores, deep pools, dark holes, rock ledges, weedy areas, and similar areas.

recorded catch catfish of jet ski

Adequate food supply is not usually a problem for Channel catfish, because they are omnivorous (will feed on both plant and animal.) This allows them to easily adapt their eating habits to the food supply in the environment they live in. Smaller Catfish often prey on insect larvae and invertebrates, such as clams and snails, while catfish over 16 inches feast on live and dead fish.

Catfish also change their feeding habits based on season. In n the spring and summer, algae, crayfish, small fish, worms, insects, and other animals and plants often become part of their diet. In the fall, frogs and fish are preferred. Channel catfish are able to adapt for survival during f older winter months, by feeding on both live and dead fish at the bottom of their habitat. Knowing the feeding habits of the Channel catfish in the area you are fishing in will help you choose the right bait to use, depending on the season you are fishing in.