billthe5th

two varieties of channel cat?

7 posts in this topic

Has anyone ever noticed that there seems to be two distinct "forms" of channel cat?

 

The first bunch I caught were two different pay lakes as kid, all were very dark, almost black on most of the upper half, fading to gray. These had big wide flat heads, similar to a bullhead or maybe even wider, but these fish were 4-10# and had the distinct forked tail.

 

Then I got a handful in other random lakes after that that were more silver, often with black spots, with much narrower, pointed heads, but still the forked tail. These seem to be more that "standard" for whats stocked by the state in most lakes that I see.

 

any thoughts?

 

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Channel Cats mature at 5 years old. The darker fish are mature fish that have filled out. The silver spotted ones are juveniles.

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It's possible you came across a particular aquaculture strain that looks a bit different (certainly a better chance coming across this in a pay lake vs the wild). I wouldn't go by color alone since it can vary wildly by body of water and like KarpsnKatz pointed out, they loose their little spots as they age.

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Posted (edited) · Report post

On 6/24/2022 at 4:40 AM, Pleco said:

They could be white catfish. They're have the forked tail and are colored like a channel, but shaped like a bullhead.

https://portal.ct.gov/DEEP/Fishing/Freshwater/Freshwater-Fishes-of-Connecticut/White-Catfish

I think you are right Pleco. My brother and I used to catch a lot of White Catfish in brackish rivers and they looked like the fish billthe5th described. The wide flat head combined with the forked tail sounds a White Catfish. If I recall correctly the white catfish is the biggest member of the bullhead catfish family and they grow to about 10 to 11 lbs.

 

Some States stocked White Catfish in rivers and lakes many years ago. I have not heard about any recent stockings of white catfish because Channel Cats have become more popular with the warm water fish hatcheries and catfish anglers.

Edited by Long Wader

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Juvenile Channel Cat VS. mature Channel Cat. Zoom in on the juvenile and note the black spots, and the lack thereof on the mature fish. Also while similar in appearance, the Channel Cat will always have the deeply forked tail, where the White Cat's forked tail becomes less pronounced as it ages. Also, the White Cat will have a rounded head typical of Bullheads, with a relatively even jaw. The Channel Cat will have a narrower head, with the classic Channel cat over bite.0CA3136D-1CB0-4C21-8D44-DFE0E405E898.jpeg.357f1652f55e16cdaf21ecf8729e9fb7.jpegA2FF0CAE-A065-4EAC-9BEC-78765DCD5252.jpeg.7346079854a38f85f6e8b74b872ce133.jpeg

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belated thanks for the replies... the pay lakes called them channel cats, but some I remember that big wide head that is kind of making me think the white cat could be it. I'll have to take a closer look at some of my old pictures.

 

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