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Bullheads And Catfish - Names that bring joy and disgust
When it comes to fishing, there are two names that make the sport great to me, 'bullheads' and 'catfish', no other freshwater fish get such a bad rap as these two old friends do. If I am at work or in a store or some other place, all I have to do is mention 'I caught some bullheads or a catfish, and it's like I am talking about some horrible skin disease. People frown or shake their heads in disgust, and start talking about how nasty they are and how they are bottom feeders. Let me tell you what I think about bullheads and catfish.
I think they get a back rap because they are ugly to most folks, I mean they are dark, they have whiskers by their mouths, and they have sharp spines at the dorsal and pectoral fins. Mishandle a bullhead while removing a fishhook or when placing one in the live well, and you can get horned or pricked with one of the sharp spines. The spines contain a poison that often hurts worse than a bee sting, and the pain and soreness can last a week. Bullheads and Catfish can actually use the sharp spines to attack other fish, I have seen this myself here in my home. I have a freshwater fish aquarium, in it I once had a bluegill, goldfish and a small bullhead. I noticed one day that the goldfish had a sore or bloody area near it's tail. I soon learned how the injury had happened. I saw the bullhead literally ram the side of the goldfish and stick it with one of it's spines. The goldfish went nuts, swimming around fast, later it appeared to be ok, except for another bloodied spot or wound on it's side. I am sure if the bullhead continued attacking and pricking the goldfish in the right spot, enough times, it would of killed it.
I once was trying to remove a hook from the tough mouth of a bullhead I had caught, when I accidently got pricked by one of the spines, the area swelled up and it hurt for days, I was always a lot more careful when it came to handling bullheads after that. The poison contained in the bullheads sharp spines, can make even a small baby bullhead very painful if your not careful when handling it. The poison glands are common throughout the catfish and bullhead species.
Despite the appearance, there isn't a more mellow and better tasting fish than a bullhead or catfish. There are numerous ways one can prepare them for a meal, but all I ever do, is gut them out, remove the dorsal and pectoral fins, spines, head and the skin, leaving the tail fin intact. Then I just get me a large skillet and pour a good amount of cooking oil in it, and get it good and hot. Then I roll the bullhead or catfish meat in flour, and gently place them in the hot oil and fry them. I eat them hot with a little salt and pepper, and dip pieces of the meat into ketchup. Bullheads and catfish have the large backbones that make them the easiest fish to eat without filleting.
I think people just get the idea that they taste bad because they are bottom feeders. This means nothing really, a catfish and bullhead will eat or bite on a worm just like a bass or perch will. They may tend to stay or feed near the bottom of lakes, ponds and rivers but they really eat no crap or other junk. They like feeding near the bottoms because that is where one of their favorite meals live, crawfish, and clippers. The bullheads and catfish actually push small rocks and stones, logs and other debris on the bottom to look for the crawfish and clippers, along with other live water creatures, and bullheads and catfish nest and burrow into mud and banks
It is true that large catfish may be muddy tasting, but that can be simply cured by not eating the large ones. Some catfish have a dark stripe in the meat that goes the length of the fish, this area is sometimes strong tasting, again, just avoid eating this part and you will be fine. I have caught and ate bullheads and catfish all of my life, and I love them more then any other fish, including perch and bass.
Most of the bullheads I have caught here in Pennsylvania in the ponds and lakes are the black bullheads, once in awhile I catch a brown one, But there colors can vary a lot, I have caught some bullheads that were yellow or a nice shade of green. I believe it depends a lot on the amount of algae and other plants in the water, and also the time of the year, water temperature, and other factors.
I have been told by a lot of different fishermen that the best times to catch bullheads and catfish is at night. I have found that this is not always the case, in fact most of my best bullhead catches occurred during the daylight hours. I have fished at night and have not even gotten a bite, other times I have been at the pond at 3:00 PM, the hottest time of the day, on a clear, sunny, summer day, and have caught a whole stringer of bullheads. Sometimes something strange happens that seems to awaken bullheads, making them bite a lot or to suddenly stop biting. One time I was fishing during a nice sunny afternoon, when the sky clouded over, it wasn't the dark clouds, just the grey ones, as soon as the sun was gone, the bullheads stopped biting just like someone had turned off a switch. Another time, I was fishing on a sunny day when all of a sudden a thunderstorm hit, it got dark and started to rain, and thunder, all of a sudden the bullheads started to bite like crazy, then the storm passed and the sky cleared, when it did, the bullheads stopped biting. So whether it's a sunny day, cloudy day, or night, it seems there is a lot of factors one must take into consideration when catching bullheads and catfish. I have learned that either they are going to bite or they are not, whenever you go fishing, no matter what time of day or night it is.
There is Computer Software that is made for fishing. After keeping a few past records of fishing trips, this software will help you to easily calculate what days will be a great fishing day ! The software is called: ' Fishing Buddy ', and you can download and try the software for free at this website address:
By Robert W. Benjamin
Copyright © 2006
You may publish this article in your ezine, newsletter or on your web site as long as it is reprinted in its entirety and without modification except for formatting needs or grammar corrections.
About the Author: Robert W. Benjamin has been in the software business on the internet for over 5 years, and has been producing low-cost software for the past 25+ years. He first released software on the AMIGA and C64 computer systems in the late 1970's-80's.