hump-back blue, forktail cat, great blue cat, silver
cat, chucklehead cat, blue fulton
RANGE:Originally found in the Escambia
and Yellow rivers in northwest Florida, they are now
also in the Apalachicola and Suwannee. Blues were first
officially recorded in 1990 by Florida Game and Fresh
Water Commission biologists despite reports that anglers
had been catching blues for many years.
HABITAT: Blue Catfish occur in big
rivers and in the lower reaches of major tributaries.
They prefer clearer, swifter water than other catfish,
and are usually found over sand, gravel or rock bottoms.
Their preferred water temperature is 77 to 82 degrees.
Adult fish have stout bodies with prominently humped
backs in front of the dorsal fin. They resemble channel
catfish by having deeply forked tails, but are
dissimilar because they are unspotted and have a long,
straight-edged anal fin with 30 to 35 rays. The back and
upper sides are blue to slate gray, and the lower sides
and belly are white. The internal air bladder has a
constriction in the middle, giving it a two-chambered
Blue catfish grow faster and live longer than channel
catfish. They are the largest member of the catfish
family. Blues may grow to lengths of over 55 inches and
may weigh more than 100 pounds. Maximum life span for
blues is unknown but is probably 20-25 years.
61.5 pounds, caught in the Escambia River, Escambia
County, in 1996.
Considered an excellent
food fish with white, firm, delicately flavored flesh.
Best eaten when prepared with batter and deep fried.
QUALITIES: One of the strongest
freshwater fish; blues are caught on bush hooks or
trotlines as well as rod and reel. The most effective
baits are cut fish, live fish and nightcrawlers. They
also will take prepared and rotting baits. Most are
caught while bottom fishing with cut fish, rigged on
large hooks weighted down by heavy lead sinkers. Since
they can also be taken by commercial fishermen, no
specific sport fishing regulations currently apply but
they are eligible for the "Big Catch" program.
NOTE: Blue catfish are restricted as being
potentially detrimental to the natural ecosystem if they
were moved from their current range into other water
bodies and should not be transported alive.
TACKLE AND BAITS: small shiners are the
preferred live bait; rarely take plastic worms like
largemouth bass do, but top-water lures, minnow
imitating crank and jerk baits, and marabou jigs are
popular artificial baits; streamers, epoxy minnows and
pencil poppers are favorites of fly fishers; daily bag
limit of two fish, only one of which can be greater than
Casting; Still Fishing.