Home >> Utah Fish Species >> Channel Catfish

Channel Catfish (Ictalurus punctatus)

Channel Catfish
Channel Catfish caught at Utah Lake


The channel catfish, Ictalurus punctatus, is a popular sport fish that is currently found in many of Utah's warmer waters, such as Utah Lake, but is not native to the state. The channel catfish is native to many areas of North America east of the Rocky Mountains.

Channel catfish eat many types of foods, including plant matter, detritus, and a large variety of invertebrates, although adult fish are primarily piscivorous (they eat fish). The species spawns in late spring and summer, with eggs hatching in about one week. Eggs are guarded by the males, who also guard young fish after hatching.

Channel cats are distinguished from other catfishes (such as the Bullhead Catfish) by their long anal fin and deeply forked tail. The body is pale bluish-olive above and bluish-white below. They usually have spots but lose them when older. Both dorsal and pectoral fins have strong, sharp spines. The mouth is short, wide and horizontal with chin and snout barbels (whiskers).

Channel Catfish are one of the most popular warmwater species of fish in Utah. They are Utah's largest species of catfish, and put up a fantastic fight. Utah Lake is the most common place to find Channel Catfish. It provides excellent catfish fishing for most of the year from April to November.

A somewhat common misconception about catfish in Utah is that there are "Blue Catfish" in Utah Lake. This is completely false. In realy, what some unknowing anglers are calling "Blue Cats" are actually just bluish colored Channel Catfish.

Where to catch Channel Catfish:

Current Regulations:

Fishing Tips:

Channel catfish are one of the most fun species of fish to catch. They grow to a large size, fight extremely hard, often leaping from the water and running into stickups. They provide a nice challenge, a great fight, an are excellent table fare. The trick is figuring out where they are on a regular basis, and what they want to eat.

Most often, people use bait to target catfish. However, channel cats are also often caught by angers fishing for bass, carp, walleye, or other gamefish with lures (usually on or near the bottom). However, the most common method of catching catfish is still using bait such as worms, shrimp, stinkbaits, carp or white bass meat, dead minnows, or chicken livers.