The channel catfish is a strong and tasty game fish that is becoming more and more popular with Minnesota anglers. It is commonly found in large rivers and will eat just about anything that comes in front of its nose.
General description: The channel catfish is a slender fish with a forked tail, flat head, whiskers (called barbels), and a smooth skin. It is smaller than its cousin the flathead catfish.
Length: On average, between 12 and 24 inches.
Weight: On average, between two and seven pounds.
Color: Silvery blue to light olive with black spots.
Channel catfish spawn when water temperatures reach 75 degrees, usually in late June. The eggs are deposited in a jelly-like mass. After spawning, the male drives off the female and guards the eggs. The eggs hatch in six to 10 days.
Channel catfish eat crayfish, insects, snails, small clams, worms, fish, and the seeds of elm and silver maple trees. They mainly feed at night, which is the best time to catch them.
Large freshwater fish such as flathead catfish and muskies.
Habitat and range
Large and small rivers, lakes, and ponds. In Minnesota, channel catfish are common in the Mississippi River, the St. Croix River, and in the larger tributaries of both rivers. The fish has also been stocked in some lakes in northwestern Minnesota.
Population and management
Many rivers and some lakes hold channel catfish. Although it is a strong fish that tastes good, for some reason it is still not a very popular fish in Minnesota. The DNR stocks channel catfish in some lakes.
Catfish can't "sting" you. But these fish have a sharp spine in the top and side fins. If you're not careful, you can accidentally poke your hand on these spines. The Minnesota record channel catfish is 38 pounds, caught in the Mississippi River. The world record, 58 pounds, was taken in South Carolina. About one percent of all Minnesota anglers fish for catfish.