Channel catfish are some of the most sought-after fish in the state. That popularity doesn’t stem from their looks, but their willingness to bite and great taste in the frying pan.

Channel catfish are the most common catfish species. Blue cats, sometimes referred to as Mississippi whites, are frequently caught in larger reservoirs, while flatheads are found in lakes and rivers across the state.

In recent years, fisheries biologists have been increasing their emphasis on flathead catfish research and management. A new method of electrofishing has proved effective for sampling flathead populations, and a ranking system has been developed based on their abundance, size and chances for fishing success. This system will help biologists make future decisions concerning flathead management.

Biologist’s Tips

Catfish feed more by taste and touch (with their "whiskers") than by sight. Warm weather, coupled with rising water levels, often send these fish into feeding frenzies. Worms, crayfish, prepared baits and cut shad are top bait choices, while shallow areas with flooded or sunken cover are prime fishing spots for channel and blue catfish. Although fishermen have caught flatheads on many types of baits, these cats can be finicky eaters, especially the big ones. That’s why many flathead anglers insist on using only live bait. Four- to six-inch bluegills are one of the best bets, followed by shad and crayfish. Rip-rap and sunken timber near deep water are preferred holding areas for flatheads.

Blue catfish are Oklahoma’s "coolest cats." They remain active and catchable throughout the winter when fishing for other species tapers off. Rain and runoff into lakes stimulates blues in the cold months as much as in the spring and fall. But in summer’s heat, big blues act much like stripers, suspending over deep, cooler water and feeding primarily
at night.

Catfish in Oklahoma