Ictalurus Furcatus



River, Lake, Flats, Backcountry

20 - 81 pounds

25" - 46"

Blue Catfish

Also Known As: Catfish  

Guides Who Fish This Species

Blue Catfish (Ictalurus Furcatus) Fish Description

Blue Catfish are known for their slate-blue bodies. However, they are often mistaken for the Channel Catfish because of their appearance. To identify them, people usually count the rays on their fins. Blue Catfish only have 30-36 rays on their fins. Another is to look closely at the anal fin. Blue Catfish’s anal fin has a squared-off edge whereas Channel Catfish have a rounded anal fin. They also have a dorsal hump which the Channel Catfishes don’t really have.

Known also as Blue Cat, Blue Catfish have similar traits to that of their catfish cousins. They have a deeply forked tail which is where they got their scientific name. Blue Catfish also have a bit of an underbite, which makes them more prone to surface feeding. Blue Catfish, like all other catfish, have whisker-looking barbels that place them in the Catfish group.


Blue Catfish Diet and Size

Blue Catfish are terrifying hunters and are often described as opportunistic. Like their other catfish cousins, they eat virtually anything. Though, they have a preference for crawfish, some freshwater mussels, frogs, and other aquatic substances that are readily available. Larger Blue Catfish are also known to become predators of the Asian Carp

Anglers usually notice the Blue Catfish feasting on some baitfish under a school of feeding Striped Bass. In a way, Blue Catfish act like scavengers when it comes to hunting for food.

Blue Catfishes are the largest among all the North American catfish species. Blue Catfish range between 25-46 inches and weigh at an average of 81.5 lbs.


Interesting Facts about the Blue Catfish

  • Blue Catfish are considered pests in some states like Virginia.
    • When anglers catch Blue Catfish, they’re usually told to kill them to cull their numbers.
    • Blue Catfish love feeding on Blue Crabs which is detrimental to Virginia’s fisheries.
  • Blue Catfish are so sturdy for their ability to handle brackish water.
    • It has a low mortality rate due to its intimidating size and its success rate as a hunter.
  • Because the population of Blue Catfish exploded, some people have even resorted to electrofishing.
    • Electrofishing is a technique that scientists often use to stun or impair the fish.
      • Doing this allows them to research more into the fish.
    • However, some states have opted to use Electrofishing as a means of culling Blue Catfish. Some have caught around 700 Blue Catfish per hour!


Blue Catfish – Fishing Techniques: How to Fish for a Blue Catfish

Like any catfish, they prefer freshly-cut up bait. Having cut fresh bait has the blood of the bait drip into the water which will seduce the catfish via its taste receptors on its body. Once the Blue Catfish detects it, they’ll start heading to your bait. Some people have noted that herring, sardine, and even chicken liver will be a good bait for catching a Blue Catfish.

As for leaving your bait, let it sink all the way to the ground. Blue Catfish are opportunistic so they’re not going to attack a bait that’s constantly moving. Let it fall to the ground until you feel a nibble. Wait for a good 1-2 nibbles (though it depends on how much bait you put) before reeling it in.

Others use Electrofishing which uses a cathode and anode to attract them to you. Once they come to you, they’ll suffer a slight “stun” or shock but that doesn’t affect their meat quality. It will make it easier for you to catch though and you just might find yourself hauling out a lot.

Make sure you also bring leather gloves or gloves that have a lot of friction. They’re slimy and they will put up a fight so you’ll need gloves to have a good grip on these slippery creatures.

Blue Catfish United States Fishing Heatmap

Blue Catfish Habitat and Distribution


The best place to start fishing for Blue Catfish is a place where they are considered pests. So, Virginia might be a good place to start.

Once there, start looking in lakes and rivers. Blue Catfish stay in those kinds of places but they do have a specific requirement: it has to be near some sort of tidal creek. Since Blue Catfishes follow the tides, they usually end up the creek and stay there especially if they found a channel or hole to their liking. The holes need to deep and have to be muddy at the bottom. Once, there you can give it a shot.