Bullhead, black
(Ameiurus melas)
(Rafinesque, 1820); ICTALURIDAE FAMILY
The black bullhead is found from southern Ontario through the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River, south to the Gulf of Mexico. It occurs from Montana in the west to the Appalachians in the east, and has been introduced into Arizona, California, and various other western states as well as a few states east of the Appalachians.
Despite the common names, black bullhead (Ameiurus melas), brown bullhead (A. nebulosus), and yellow bullhead (A. natalis), color is not the best way to identify these fish. The “black” bullhead may be dark green, olive, brown, yellowish green, or black on top, green or gold on the sides, and white or bright yellow below. Spawning males are jet black, as are the very young (the young of brown and yellow bullheads are also usually black). The surest way to distinguish this fish from the brown or yellow bullheads is by the pectoral fins. In the brown and yellow bullheads the rear edge of the pectoral fin spine is serrated with numerous sharp tooth like projections, while in the black bullhead the serrations are extremely weak or absent altogether. Also, the black bullhead has dark colored chin barbels which may be gray, black, or black spotted, and its body and head are deeper and more massive than in the brown and yellow bullheads. The tail fin is squarish (truncate) or slightly emarginate, which will readily distinguish the black bullhead from the channel catfish (Ictalurus punctatus), the white catfish (Ameiurus catus), and the blue catfish (Ictalurus furcatus), all of which have deeply forked tails.
It is a small catfish at around 8 lb (3.62 kg) especially compared to the blue catfish which may reach over 100 lb (45 kg), but it is an extremely popular sport fish that, like the bluegill, is often stocked in farm ponds. It is considered excellent as a food fish.

Current All Tackle Record

8 lbs 2oz ( 3.69 kg)

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