The Flathead Catfish is also called a 'mud cat' or a 'yellow cat'. It has a flat head and is mostly yellowish brown in color with a lighter yellow belly and black spots over its entire body. Its name comes from the long thin barbels around its mouth that look like the whiskers of a cat. The lower jaw of a flathead catfish is very large and distinctive. They are strong fish with large fins and a scaleless body. Flatheads weigh about 20 pounds, although some have been as large as 50 pounds!
Flathead catfish are found in large rivers, slow moving streams and lakes with firm bottoms. At night, they move from deeper water to shallows to feed. These fish are common throughout the midwest and eastern USA. Adult flatheads are excellent hunters. They prefer live food, especially crayfish.
The flathead is not a social fish. It is almost always on its own, except during mating. Mating begins in the early summer. Both the male and female will build nests in hollow logs or in burrows near the shore. The female lays a group of tightly packed eggs--as many as 100,000 eggs per season. Unlike many other fish, the male guards the nest protect the young after they hatch, even attacking the female if she comes too close. Once the fish hatch, however, they are on their own.