Black bullhead

Black bullhead

The black bullhead, Ameiurus melas, is a species of bullhead catfish. Like other bullhead catfish, they have the ability to thrive in waters that are low in oxygen, brackish, turbid and/or very warm.. Like virtually all catfish, they are nocturnal, preferring to feed at night, although young will feed during the day. They are omnivorous and eat almost anything from grains, insects, dead or living fish and crustaceans. They generally do not get as large as the channel or blue catfish, with average adult weights in the 1 to 2 pound range, and almost never as large as 5 pounds.

Like most of the bullheads (and even the cousin flathead catfish) it has a squared tail fin, which is strikingly different than the forked tail of channel and blue catfish. Their color will depend on the area they are taken from, but are generally darker than brown or yellow bullheads. They can be distinguished from flatheads in that their lower lip does not protrude past the upper lip. Distinguishing from the brown bullhead is a bit more difficult, depending on the area they are caught from, but a distinguishing detail between the two include a nearly smooth pectoral spine on the black bullhead with the brown being strongly barbed. The anal fin also has a gray base, and the tail also has a pale bar.


They are considered rough fish and are seldom caught for sport. The flesh of the black bullhead is pale in coloration,and has a good flavor, but it may be soft in summer. The black bullhead is one of several catfish informally referred to as mud catfish. They are not caught often, and usually it is by accident. They have been introduced in many areas of the US because of their ability to survive (and even thrive) in less than ideal conditions, but they are seldom used in active stocking programs due to their relatively low desirability.

Black bullhead can be caught using similar techniques as Channel or Blue catfish, although their small size may require smaller bait and hooks. Cut bait, "stink" baits, small crayfish, worms and leeches can be used to catch these fish. Like most catfish, they are most active during the night and tend to be less active and bed under piers or in shady shore areas during the day.


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