Bullhead Catfish Facts

The bullhead catfish is the most common member of the catfish family and a very tasty fish. Mostly found in coastal rivers, ponds, and reservoirs, bullhead catfish don’t get as much attention as many of their catfish cousins because of their smaller size. But catching bullhead can be a lot of fun and they are easy to cook up whole in the fryer. That’s not all that’s compelling about this interesting fish, though. We’ve compiled some of our favorite bullhead catfish facts so you can learn more about them before you reel them in.

  • Bullheads are also called mud cats, horned pout, river cats, pollywogs, pollies, and barbottes, but they have numerous other nicknames.
  • When fully mature, bullhead catfish weigh less than one pound and have smooth skin without scales.
  • Bullheads are easiest to catch during the evening and at night when they come out into the now cooler waters in search of food.
  • Because bullhead catfish are easy to catch, new anglers can enjoy plenty of fast action with an edible payoff – often right from shore.
  • Most wildlife agencies have no creel limit for bullheads, and when creel limits do exist, they’re typically very generous.
  • For anglers not interested in eating bullheads, it’s worth noting that these small-scale catfish make great bait for those huge monster catfish.
  • These fish are hardy. Bullhead catfish can tolerate lower oxygen levels in water and higher levels of pollution much better than other fish. Bullheads can even stay alive out of water for several hours.
  • Bullhead bites hurt because of their strong jaws and rows of needle-like teeth. They can also sting by injecting poison through the barbs in their fins.
  • A bullhead catfish sting will hurt for several hours, but rubbing slime from the fish’s belly onto the sting can ease the pain.
  • Bullheads eat almost anything, from snails and insect larvae to vegetation. In a pinch, a bullhead catfish will even eat sewage. Philosopher Henry David Thoreau wrote that bullheads “will take any kind of bait, from angleworms to a piece of tomato can.”