The Brown Bullhead (Ameiurus nebulosus), is a fish of the family Ictaluridae. It is widely distributed throughout North America. It is a species of bullhead catfish and is similar to the black bullhead (Ameiurus melas) and yellow bullhead (Ameiurus natalis). The brown bullhead is also widely known as the “mud pout”, “horned pout” or “hornpout” or simply “mud cat”, along with the other bullhead species.
The brown bullhead thrives in a variety of habitats, including lakes and ponds with low oxygen and/or muddy conditions in many areas of the U.S. Brown Bullheads are opportunistic bottom feeders. They eat insects, leeches, snails, fish, clams, and many plants. They are also known to eat corn, which can be used as bait. Similar to other catfishes, they spawn only after the temperature of the water has reached 80 degrees (cooler in the northern US) in June and July.
Unlike their cousins the channel catfish and the blue catfish, the brown bullhead are considered rough fish and not commonly eaten, although they may be quite edible if caught in very clear waters. In most areas, they will not exceed two pounds in weight, with a current world’s record of 6 lbs. 1 oz. Because of this, brown and other bullheads are not often sought by anglers and usually caught while pursuing other fishes.
The brown bullhead is important as a clan symbol of the Ojibwe group of Native Americans. In their tradition, the bullhead or “wawaazisii” is one of six beings that came out of the sea to form the original clans.
Photo Credit: Noel Burkhead