The brown bullhead, Ameiurus nebulosus, is a fish of the Ictaluridae family that is widely distributed in North America. It is a species of bullhead catfish and is similar to the black bullhead (Ameiurus melas) and yellow bullhead (Ameiurus natalis). It was originally described as Pimelodus nebulosus by Charles Alexandre Lesueur in 1819, and is also referred to as Ictalurus nebulosus.
The brown bullhead is also widely known as the "mud pout", "horned pout" or "hornpout" or simply "mud cat", along with the other bullhead species.
The brown bullhead is important as a clan symbol of the Ojibwe group of Native Americans. In their tradition, the bullhead or "wawaazisii" is one of six beings that came out of the sea to form the original clans.
The brown bullhead thrives in a variety of habitats, including lakes and ponds with low oxygen and/or muddy conditions. In many areas of the U.S., Brown Bullheads are opportunistic bottom feeders. They eat insects, leeches, snails, fish, clams, and many plants. They are also known to eat corn, which can be used as bait. Similar to other catfish, they spawn only after the temperature of the water has reached 80 degrees Fahrenheit
(27 °C) (cooler in the northern US) in June and July.
Unlike their cousins the channel catfish
and the blue catfish
, the brown bullhead are considered rough fish
and not commonly eaten, although they may be quite edible if caught in very clear waters. When taken from such water, the flesh is reddish to pinkish; it is firm and has an excellent flavor. In most areas, they will not exceed two pounds in weight, with a current world's record of 6 lb 1 oz (2.75 kg). Minnesota lists a 7 lb 1 oz brown bullhead, but it was never officially recognized. . Because of this, brown and other bullheads are not often sought by anglers and usually caught while pursuing other fishes.