Brown bullhead (Ameiurus nebulosus)

Category: Fish
Common names: Bullhead catfish, Catfish

Description and Range

Physical description

The Brown Bullhead is by far the most common of the three bullhead species found in Washington. It can be identified by the presence of strong barbs or serrations on the back edge of its pectoral spines, and pigmentation in the chin barbels. Like other members of the catfish family, brown bullheads are often abundant in water a little muddier and warmer than most other fish prefer. They can tolerate high water temperatures and low dissolved oxygen levels that would be lethal to most other game fish. Having a highly-developed sense of smell and touch, bullheads are well equipped to negotiate murky waters and find food.Average 8-12 inches. Can grow larger in quality populations.

Where you may encounter brown bullhead

Lakes where this species may be found

Adams County
Adams County, Lincoln County
Clallam County
Island County
Jefferson County
Skamania County
Whitman County

How to fish for brown bullhead

Fishing prospects calendar

Fishing improves throughout the spring, peaking before the spawning period in May and June. Fishing may pick up in early Fall, followed by a decrease in action as waters cool. Winter is a difficult time to target this species.
Chart of fishing prospects throughout the calendar year

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.

State record

WeightAnglerLocationDate Caught
11.04 lbs Justin E. Andrews Unnamed lake, Snohomish County June 3, 2000

See all sportfish records