The channel catfish (Ictalurus punctatus) is found through much of North America. It can be recognized by its deeply forked tail and spots on the body. Channel catfish prefer clean bottoms of sand or gravel in larger lakes and rivers. They feed mainly on crayfish, fishes, and insects generally at night in swifter moving currents. At spawning time they will enter small tributaries and streams. Highly regarded for food and sport value. Still fishing with cut bait or dough balls is often effective.
What it looks like:
- Large, elongated body with no scales;
- 4 pairs of dark barbels around the mouth;
- Pale blue, pale olive or grey back;
- Lighter sides, often with black spots;
- Grey to yellow to silver-white belly;
- Tail is more forked than a bullhead’s.
- Length: 36-53 centimetres (14-21 inches)
- Weight: 0.9-1.8 kilograms (2-4 pounds)
- Ontario record: 13.2 kilograms (38.5 pounds)
Where it is found:
Range of the [channel-catfish] in Ontario
- Common in southern Ontario lakes, including Lake Huron, Lake Ontario, Lake Erie, Lake St. Clair, Lake Simcoe and Georgian Bay;
- Also found in large rivers, like the French, Ottawa and upper St. Lawrence;
- Use Fish ON-Line, an interactive mapping tool, to find specific lakes and rivers.
- Warm-water habitats in lakes and streams;
- Cooler and swifter water than most other Ontario catfish;
- Fast water downstream from power dams.
- Try protected areas like deep holes below riffles, and under drift piles or overhanging banks;
- Still-fishing is recommended;
- Active feeders all day long;
- Often active during low light periods (dawn and dusk) and even through the night;
- Sometimes take spinners and small plugs;
- Try bottom fishing or drifting a live minnow under a small float.
- Crayfish, earthworms, large dead minnows;
- Strips of cut herring or smelt;
- Chicken entrails.
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