Common Family: The Catfish Family
Common Name: Bullhead
Scientific Name: Ameiurus spp.
Bullheads are medium-sized catfish. They are dark in color and have a short and stocky body, which makes them a rather chunky fish. Their head is more round than other catfish, and the tail is square. Bullheads seldom exceed 10 inches in length.
Bullheads can be found in some of West Virginia’s lakes, reservoirs, streams and farm ponds. They feed primarily on bottom dwelling insects and crayfish. Bullheads live in a variety of habitats, including brackish and/or low oxygen ponds, rivers and lakes, although they are seldom stocked intentionally. Fishing techniques are similar to those utilized for channel catfish. Their diet consists of plant and animal matter found on the bottom.
Bullheads can tolerate very low dissolved oxygen levels and are common in West Virginia with no conservation concerns.
The West Virginia state length record bullhead is 22.75 inches and 6.1 pounds (Gary R. Freeman, 1977). The world record is 8.02 pounds in New York State in 2015.
To tell the difference between a bullhead catfish and channel catfish, look for a square tail. Only channel catfish will have deeply forked tails. Flathead catfish have a terminal mouth with the lower jaw slightly longer.