Fish Profile: Bullhead

Bullheads are a bit odd looking compared to other freshwater fish. They don’t have scales and they have whiskers. Bullheads are part of the catfish family. The way to tell them apart from the other members of the catfish family is to look at their caudal fin (tail fin) and if it is pointed, it isn’t a bullhead. Bullheads have round caudal fins. They are black or dark brown on top and white on the bottom. They are the only fish in Blue Lake that look like this so they are easy to identify. The average weight of these fish is about three quarters of a pound so they are medium sized fish. Unlike other catfish, they don’t grow huge. Bullheads have about eight barbels or whiskers around their mouth.

Bullheads live at the bottom of the lake since they feed more on the bottom so they usually live in deeper water. They can live in just about any type of fresh water whether it is muddy or clear. They have quite a high tolerance for pollution. Bullheads occur from New Brunswick to The Great Lakes and in southern Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

Bullheads eat just about anything this includes vegetation, insect larvae, worms, and even other fish. They have very strong jaws for their size, which can pick things up from the bottom. Their barbels have sensors so they feel around on the dark bottom with them since they feed the most at night when it’s dark. They are omnivorous which means they eat both plants and animals.

Bullheads spawn in late spring to early summer in weeds, mud, or sandy patches. They like calm water or slow moving water the most but are very versatile when it comes to water conditions. The eggs are guarded by the bullhead so that predators don’t eat them. The male also guards the babies after they have hatched for a few weeks as well. The babies are completely black and are quite small. Bullheads usually live about 10 to 12 years.

Bullheads are easy to catch since they eat a large variety of foods. They have great tasting meat on them that many fishermen enjoy. Topwater lures would not be effective with bullheads since they are mainly bottom feeders. Worms and artificial worms are probably the best option for this species. This summer I caught four bullheads and two of them were caught with a live worm.


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