• Family: Ictaluridae (North American Catfishes)
• Other Names: Shovelhead, mudcat, yellow catfish
• Ohio Status: Sport fish
• Adult Size: Typically 20-40 inches, can reach nearly 60 inches. Usually weighs 10-40 pounds, occasionally reaches 60-80 pounds.
• Typical Foods: Feeds almost entirely on live fish.
The flathead catfish is the only North American catfish species whose lower jaw is longer than the upper jaw. Their head is flattened between the eyes and they have a very large mouth. This is also the only large catfish with a square tail. Their body color is usually yellow-olive or a brown with dark brown blotches. Their belly is yellow or yellowish white.
Habitat and Habits
Adults prefer deep pools with slow current and cover, such as submerged logs and brush piles. They are found in large rivers in Ohio and are most abundant in the Maumee, Muskingum, Scioto, and Ohio Rivers. They can also be found in most of the larger reservoirs in the state.
Reproduction and Care of the Young
Flathead catfish spawn when water temperatures reach 70 degrees Fahrenheit. They build nests in dark secluded shelters such as natural cavities, undercut banks, or near large submerged objects. The eggs are laid in a compact golden-yellow mass which is fanned continuously. The egg mass may contain as many as 100,000 eggs. After hatching, the young remain near the nest for several days in a large compact school.