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Giant Catfish Facts

Zeb holding fish up to the camera.

Zeb holding fish up to the camera. (View larger version)

Photograph by NGT

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  • Blue catfish are most found in large rivers in the channels and tributaries of major river system, such as the Tennessee River. They move upstream in the summer to search for cooler temperatures and head downstream in the winter.

  • Blue catfish are native to most major rivers in the southern and Midwestern United States, including the Mississippi and the Ohio. They can also be found as far south as Mexico and Guatemala.

  • The blue catfish goes by many names. People may know it better as the blue channel, chucklehead cat, Mississippi cat, Fulton cat, great forktail cat, humpback blue, and highfin blue.

  • In Texas, the blue catfish is the largest fresh water sporting fish.

  • A female blue catfish can produce as many as 100,000 eggs at a time.

  • During the 19th century, giant blue catfish weighing from 125 to 200 pounds were reportedly caught on a regular basis. This can be seen as the basis for many “giant catfish” legends.

  • The flathead catfish, like the blue, is native to the central U.S. and the Mississippi River and its tributaries.

  • Flathead catfish can by many names and may better be known at a Yellow Cat, Opelousa Cat, Pied Cat, Mississippi Cat, Mud Cat, and Shovelhead Cat.

  • In size, flatheads are the second largest sport fish in Texas after the blue catfish.

  • Flathead catfish have been introduced in both the East and West of the United States, and threaten biodiversity, human health (they accumulate toxins), and other fishing industries.

  • Asian carp or native to northern parts of Asia and have only been introduced into U.S. rivers.

  • Asian carp’s introduction to U.S. rivers has done considerable damage, both economically and for health reasons. They are regarded as highly invasive species in the U.S. capable of causing serious harm.

  • Asian carp were originally introduced into US water systems as a way to fight algae and suspended matter.

  • “Drainage of Mississippi River and its tributary make up nearly 1/3 of U.S.’s land surface.

  • In "Life on the Mississippi," [Mark Twain] wrote of having seen monstrous-sized catfish "six feet long, weighing 250 pounds." Legends among river people of giant fishes and other river creatures of fabulous size continue today.

  • The Red River is named because of the dark red soil through which it flows and which it carries during floods.

  • The Atchafalaya River is known to be the largest bottomland hardwood swamp ecosystem in the United States.

  • The strong winds associated with hurricanes that pass near the Atchafalaya River Basin can disturb aquatic communities and result in extensive fish kills. Hurricanes Andrew and Gustav were each the cause of an estimated 100 million fish kills.

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