White catﬁsh are a common and popular ﬁsh with more limited range than other catﬁsh species, and with commercial as well as recreational value. They have been successfully stocked in pay-to-ﬁsh ponds and are also cultivated for commercial bulk harvest. Their ﬂesh is white and ﬁne, and they make excellent eating, especially when caught from clean environments.
IdentificationThe white catﬁsh looks somewhat like a cross between a channel cat (see: Catﬁsh, Channel) and a bullhead (see), owing to its slightly forked tail, broad head, and squat body. Midsize specimens are often thought to be huge bullhead. The white catﬁsh has a moderately forked tail, which distinguishes it from the ﬂathead catﬁsh and the bullhead, whose tails are not forked.
Its anal ﬁn is rounded along the edge and has 19 to 23 ﬁn rays, fewer than in either the blue catﬁsh (see: Catﬁsh, Blue) or the channel cat. Without close inspection, it could be confused with other catﬁsh, although it doesn’t possess the spots seen on young channel catﬁsh. This ﬁsh is olive gray or slate gray on the head and bluish gray or slate gray on its back and sides, tapering to a white belly. As with other catﬁsh, the white cat has heavy, sharp pectoral and dorsal spines, as well as long mouth barbels; its chin barbels are white.
Size/AgeWhite catﬁsh are smaller than their blue, channel, and ﬂathead brethren but may grow larger than bull-head. The all-tackle world record for this species is a Connecticut ﬁsh that weighed 21 pounds, 8 ounces, but a 22-pounder has been reported from California. These are the known upper limits for this species, but it may grow larger. Most white catﬁsh are small, averaging 10 to 14 inches, and are often confused with bullhead. They are a relatively slow-growing ﬁsh, reaching sexual maturity at 3 to 4 years. They have been reported to live 14 years but
may get older.