Yellow Belly, Bullhead, Bullhead Catfish
Average 6-10 inches.
2.06 lbs; Monica Beckley; Potholes Reservoir, Grant County; September 8, 2013
Yellow Bullhead can be distinguished from brown and black bullheads by the almost clear, or unpigmented, chin barbels. The yellow also has more rays in the anal fin, usually 25 or 26, compared with 16-23 in the brown and black. Yellow bullheads prefer clearer water than the other bullheads. Otherwise, the diets, preferred baits and fishing techniques are similar. Like the brown bullhead, they have a good flavor and are usually welcomed at the dinner table. Size is similar to the brown bullhead, but yellows may grow a bit faster.
The first introduction of yellow bullheads in Washington was probably in 1905 in the lower Columbia River, when display fish were released following the Lewis and Clark 100-year exposition in Portland. The Yellow Bullhead is less common in Washington than the Brown Bullhead. They are found primarily in the Columbia and Snake Rivers, as well as the lower reaches of a few eastside streams. It’s distribution in Washington lakes and reservoirs is limited.
Like other catfish, bullheads are omnivorous, eating almost anything that is available. Almost all food is taken on or near the bottom. Their excellent olfactory sense makes baits with a strong odor particularly effective. Popular baits include worms, chicken, beef, or any kind of liver. Serious catfish anglers often have their own secret bait concoctions, the smellier the better. A rod or cane pole, line, bobber and bait are usually all the tackle required. Bullheads also make excellent table fare; many anglers consider catfish taken from cool, clean water to be the ultimate in piscatorial cuisine. The fish are normally skinned, at which a little practice is required to become proficient. Any brown bullhead over 12 inches is a good-sized one, so expect to work for a family meal.