Channel Catfish

Chanel Catfish

World Record: 58 lbs
Santee-Cooper Reservoir, South Carolina
July 7th 1964
Length: 3.9–5.2 ft
Found in: Lakes, Rivers, and Ponds
Warm Waters 25C


The channel catfish is the largest of the catfishes in Canada. They have a large, less rounded body than other catfishes with a large, long, wide head, which is flat to slightly rounded on top. They have a short, wide mouth with a broad, flat undersurface and 4 pairs of darkly colored barbells. The back, top of the head and upper sides are steel blue to grey. The lower sides and the underside are dirty white to silver-white. The fins are the same color as the body and the caudal fin is forked (the only catfish in Canada with a forked tail); and breeding males are often brighter blue in color.


The channel catfish is found usually in clear, deeper water with sand, gravel or rubble bottoms. They are most often found in the protection of rocks or logs. Channel catfish undergo local movements in lakes and into tributary streams to feed. Channel catfish spawn in late spring or summer and, depending on the habitat. Spawning takes place in secluded, nests built by the male in holes, undercut banks, log jams or rocks. After spawning, the males protect the nest and clean the eggs with their fins. The eggs hatch in about 5 – 10 days and the young lie on their sides in the nest for 2 – 5 days, after which time they swim to the surface and begin to feed.


Channel catfishes feed on or near the bottom, during the day and at night. They feed on a wide variety of plant and animal material, which includes mayflies, crayfish, crabs, green algae, larger water plants, tree seeds, fishes and, rarely, birds. While feeding at night, the channel catfish uses mainly its barbels to search for food.