Bullheads belong to the catfish family. They have no scales and on their face they have sets of wormlike feelers, called barbels. Of Minnesota's three bullhead species--black, brown, and yellow--the black bullhead can live in the most polluted waters.
General description: Bullheads have barbels, spiny fins, a broad head, and no scales. You can distinguish the black bullhead from other bullheads because its barbels are black and it has a light crescent near its tail fin.
Size: This is the smallest of Minnesota bullheads. It averages 6 to 10 inches long, and seldom weighs more than 1 pound. Minnesota's record black bullhead, caught in Reno Lake in Pope County, weighed 3 pounds, 13 ounces.
Color: The black bullhead has a black back and is white or yellow underneath.
Bullheads spawn in April through June. The female lays 2,000 to 6,000 eggs in a shallow hole she scoops out on the bottom of the lake. The male cares for the eggs. After the young hatch a week or so after the eggs are laid, both parents look out for them for a couple of weeks.
Insects, snails, fish, clams, crayfish, fish eggs, plants--you name it, bullheads will eat it.
Walleyes, northern pike and other predatory fish eat bullheads up to four inches long. Some anglers eat large black bullheads.
Habitat and range
Bullheads prefer shallow lakes and slow-moving streams with a soft bottom. They are found through much of Minnesota especially the south and west. They can live in warm muddy water that is low in oxygen.
Population and management
Bullheads are abundant and are in no danger of overharvest. Many people like to catch bullheads because they put up a good fight and are good to eat. Because these fish are abundant, fishing is open all year and the bag limit is 100.
Imagine being able to taste food with the ends of your fingers, your chin, or your stomach. Bullheads have up to 100,000 taste buds scattered all over their bodies. Many are found on their barbels. Scientists believe that this well-developed sensory ability helps bullheads find food in muddy, dark water.