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White Catfish Species Breakdown

Scientific Name: Ameiurus catus

Also Known As: Forktail Cat, White Bullhead, and Graceful Catfish

White catfish are bottom-dwelling omnivores with a great sense of taste and smell. They are freshwater fish that feed on fish, insects, crustaceans, fish eggs, and aquatic plants.

How to Identify a White Catfish

White catfish have a smooth, dark gray back with a white belly and a forked tail fin. They have a wide head and mouth and the edges of their eyes can be blue. Their dorsal and pectoral fins have sharp spines that can be painful if not handled carefully.

White Catfish Size

White catfish can grow up to 37 inches long and weigh up to 19 lbs 5 oz. However, they are more commonly found in the 8 – 17 inch range weighing 5 – 8 lbs.

A trophy size white catfish is 10 pounds or larger.

White Catfish Size Chart – Length to Weight Conversion

6″1 lbs
8.5″2 lbs
11″3 lbs
13.5″5 lbs
16″7 lbs
18.5″8 lbs
21″9 lbs
23.5″9.5 lbs
28.5″11 lbs
31″13 lbs
33.5″16 lbs
36″19 lbs

White Catfish World Record

The largest white catfish ever caught was 19 pounds 5 oz in Oakdale, California in 2005.

Where White Catfish Are Found

White catfish are native to the eastern coast of the United States from New York to Florida. Today, they are found all over the US.

These fish inhabit lakes, ponds, rivers, streams, reservoirs, and drainages. They prefer muddy bottoms, warm backwaters and slow-moving areas of water.

They are primarily found in freshwater, but have been known to tolerate higher salt levels than most freshwater fish.

Lifespan of a White Catfish

The lifespan of a white catfish is typically 6 – 8 years, but can live up to 14 years. They reach maturity in 3 – 4 years.

You can tell the general age of a white catfish by referring to the table below.

White Catfish Age Chart

1 Year Old6 inches
2 Years Old8.5 inches
3 Years Old11 inches
4 Years Old13.5 inches
5 Years Old16 inches
6 Years Old18.5 inches
7 Years Old21 inches
8 Years Old23.5 inches
9 Years Old26 inches
10 Years Old28.5 inches
11 Years Old31 inches
12 Years Old33.5 inches
13 Years Old36 inches
14 Years Old38.5 inches

Fishing For White Catfish

Are White Catfish hard to catch?

White catfish aren’t very hard to catch with the right bait. Refer to the baits below and with a little patients you will be able to catch a catfish.

Best Bait for White Catfish

Because their nostrils are very sensitive, odor-sensing organs, “stink bait” is known to lure in white catfish. That includes, rotten cheese, dog food, old rotted shad, and chicken livers.

They can also be caught using worms, shrimp, cut fish, and minnows.

Methods of fishing include bait casting and bottom fishing.

What Size Hooks for White Catfish

The best hook size to catch a white catfish are the 3/0 & 5/0 circle hooks.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Are white catfish poisonous?

White catfish are not poisonous. Their spines located on the dorsal and pectoral fins contain a mucus that can cause infection if it punctures the skin. Learn how to safely handle catfish.

Are white catfish good to eat?

White catfish are some of the most underrated fish in the country since they grow large, put up a good fight, and taste great.

Do white catfish eat other fish?

White catfish will eat other fish. They are not picky and will eat what fits in their mouths.

What time of day is best to fish for white catfish?

White catfish are best caught at night or from sunrise to 10am.

Are the barbs dangerous?

The barbs on white catfish’s dorsal and pectoral fins can be painful if they stab you. The mucus covering the spines may cause infection, it is best to avoid the spines. Learn how to safely handle catfish.

Do white catfish jump?

White catfish can jump out of water when hunting for prey or escaping from predators.

Do white fish have predators?

Channel catfish can be eaten by turtles, larger fish and large birds such as eagles and osprey.