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Channel Catfish

Common Name: Channel Catfish.

Scientific Name: Ictalurus Punctatus.

What to look for?  A fish with whiskers! Channel Catfish are slender catfish with a deeply forked tail. The back and sides are olive-brown with some round, black spots. The belly is silvery- white. Their skin is smooth and scaleless. There are four barbels near the mouth that resemble the whiskers of a cat. They have sharp spines at the front of the dorsal fin and the two pectoral fins.

Where can they be found at Carillon Stonegate Pond? Channel Catfish are in both Carillon Stonegate Ponds. You may see those fishing in our ponds catch a Channel Catfish (and quickly release back into the pond).

How big are they? The Channel Catfish averages 12 to 32 inches in length. They typically weigh from one (1) to fifteen (15) pounds. Are you hearing something else from your fisherman!

How else do they behave? Channel Catfish locate food by taste and smell. They have odor sensing organs and taste buds in high concentrations on their bodies which allow them to find food in dark, muddy waters. This fish is active at night. Males and females show active and long courtship behavior before mating.

What’s for dinner? Channel Catfish are omnivores and feed opportunistically - gorging on all things living and dead. Channel Catfish feed primarily on small fish, crustaceans (crayfish), clams and snails, aquatic insects, and plant material. The young mainly feed on small insects.

Where do they take up residence? The Channel Catfish is found across most of the U.S. They are common in the Mississippi River and its larger tributaries. Adult Channel Catfish inhabit rivers and streams. They prefer clean, well oxygenated waters, but can also live in ponds and reservoirs (where they are generally stocked).

When and where do they breed and nest? Channel Catfish spawn from late May through July. The male finds and fans or cleans out a nest site, which is usually a natural cavity either around piles of drift, logs, or undercut banks. The female deposits thousands of eggs in the nest but does not provide further parental care. The eggs hatch in about a week. The young catfish, known as fry, stay in the nest for about one week. The male will guard the fry until they leave the nest.

What are their predators? Adult Channel Catfish have few predators. The dorsal and pectoral spines of the Channel Catfish serve as protection from all but the larger fishes like the flathead catfish. Young catfish have many predators, including other fish and birds.

What is their conservation status? There is no concern. Channel Catfish are listed as a species of "Least Concern" on the IUCN Red List. Channel catfish are a popular recreational fish and are managed by state recreational fishing regulations.

Where do they migrate? No. Channel Catfish – like most freshwater fish – do not migrate nor hibernate, they will live deeper within the lake or pond.

Interesting Facts About Channel Catfish:

  • The oldest reported age for a Channel Catfish is 24 years.

  • The heaviest reported weight for a Channel Catfish is 58 lbs.

  • They are called catfish because their barbels resemble the whiskers of a cat.

  • Genus name “Ictalurus” is Greek for “fish cat”.

  • Specific epithet “punctatus” is Latin for “spotted,” in reference to the dark spots on the body.

For more information on Channel Catfish and sources of information used in this blog (these are the sources that I am using to learn as I blog), please visit U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Illinois DNR, Indiana DNR, and Iowa DNR.

The Carillon at Stonegate community is very fortunate to have a variety of wetland, forest and prairie environments conducive to a variety of birds and other wildlife, insects and plants. Our community and the Kane County Forest Preserve do an exceptional job in maintaining this natural environment – both for the benefit of the birds and wildlife and for our residents to enjoy.


Take a hike and see what you can find – and identify!

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