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Flathead Catfish

Illustrator
Duane Raver, Jr.
Season
Open Year-Round

INVASIVE: Please do not return to water. Immediately kill and contact Fish and Wildlife at 302-739-9914.
Size Limit
No Size Limit

INVASIVE: Please do not return to water. Immediately kill and contact Fish and Wildlife at 302-739-9914.
Daily Limit / Person
No Limit

INVASIVE: Please do not return to water. Immediately kill and contact Fish and Wildlife at 302-739-9914.
Delaware Range
Several Flathead Catfish have been caught around the first dam at West Street in the Brandywine River and one specimen from the C&D Canal.
Abundance in Delaware Waters
Uncommon (for now)
General Habitat and Food Preferences
Flathead Catfish prefer the deep pools of streams, rivers, and canals, where large woody debris or boulder cover can be found, and the currents are moderate.

Unlike other catfish, that are scavengers, Flathead Catfish prey only on live fish and crustaceans.
General Description
Flathead Catfish are most easily recognized by their broad, flat head, brown mottled coloration, and lower jaw which sticks out.

Catfish have four barbels ("whiskers") that hang from the lower jaw, two from each corner of the mouth and two from the top of the head near the mouth.
Did You Know?
Flathead Catfish are an introduced species to Delaware (meaning they are non-native).

Flathead Catfish have been shown to severely reduce Redbreast Sunfish populations and crustaceans in other states.

Catfish have spines on the dorsal fin and pectoral fines near the head. Anglers often get punctured by these spines when handling catfish. The spines have mild venom, however it is not deadly. Be careful when handling.

The barbels ("whiskers") have taste buds that assist catfish in finding food. The whiskers are harmless.

Catfish possess excellent senses of smell and taste because their entire body is also covered in taste buds. They help the catfish find food in dark or muddy water.

Flathead Catfish often feed by sight, during the day as well as at night.
Common Fishing Lures and Baits
Live fish, such as Golden Shiners, hooked through the back with a slider rig are often used for the predatory Flathead Catfish.

INVASIVE: Please do not return to water. Immediately kill and contact Fish and Wildlife at 302-739-9914.
Typical Sizes Caught
Being a newer potentially invasive species to Delaware, minimal information is available on the recreational catch of Flathead Catfish.

The Flathead Catfish is a large fish that can exceed 60 inches in length and weigh as much as 80 pounds.
Citation Minimum Lengths/Weights
Length: 25 inches (for Live Release Award only)
or
Weight: 6 pounds

Flathead Catfish are eligible for the Delaware Sport Fishing Tournament "Catfish" citation, but not currently eligible for an individual species citation.
Delaware State Record
24 pounds 10.4 ounces
Thad Palmer
2017

"Catfish" is a general category for records and can be any catfish species.

Flathead Catfish are not currently eligible for an individual Delaware record.