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Fun fact: The term “catfish” was first used to describe a freshwater fish found in the Mississippi River at the end of the 1800s. The catfish is a large, flat-headed fish with yellowish stripes and skin that is dark brown or black.

It uses its two barbels (whiskers) on each side of its mouth to detect prey vibrations.

The fact that bullheads can be caught in a wide range of water bodies throughout the United States, including lakes, rivers, ponds, and streams, makes them a highly sought-after fish. In North America alone, there are over 80 species of catfish.

The widespread misconception that catfish only inhabit water is completely false. Some species are able to survive briefly on land or even out of water, but they always come back to the water to stay alive.

You can head on to Iowa Department of Natural Resources to check on where you can find these fishes if you dont already have a spot or just looking for new ones. in a new tab)

A HD picture of a beautiful bullhead catfish in murky waters

1. Where are bullheads based?

Blueheads travel in schools and live along the bottoms of lakes, still streams, and quiet backwaters.

2. Fishing Without a Float

When fishing directly on the bottom without a float, you should always wait for the bullhead to begin to move away before you strike. Bullheads have a tendency to spit out the bait at the last moment, allowing the angler to reel them in. I would however recommend that you do use a float to make things easier due to the fishes tendency to spit out, let the float go down a fair amount and then REEL, I use the Thkfish Fishing Bobber and it looks something like this:

A picture of fishing bobbers from the brand THKFISH

3. Bullheads Swallow Hooks

Always bring a lot of hooks on your bullhead fishing trips. Hooks are a common prey for bullheads. I personally prefer using the Drasry Fishing Hooks Set for my trips. When you clean the fish at home, it will be easier to retrieve the hook. You can also use small circle hooks to catch the bullhead in the corner of the mouth and remove it quickly. You could also instead just get the TOPFORT 187/230pcs Fishing Accessories Kit which is a full kit that comes with Jig Hooks, Bullet Bass Casting Sinker Weights, Fishing Swivels Snaps and Sinker Slides.

4. Bullheads at Night

When they are feeding, bullheads are more active at night. Nighttime fishing can be very productive. The deep holes in creeks, the backwater areas of rivers, the edges of weed beds, boat docks, humps, and long points should be your focus.

5. A Wiggly Blown-Up Worm and Bullheads

Bullheads can’t resist a wiggly blown-up worm. To add air to the worm, use a “worm blower.” The worm rises as a result, making it more visible to the bullheads. While the worms are wriggling high, the sinker will rest at the bottom, resulting in more strikes from the fish. The one that I personally like is the Lindy Worm Blower and you can look at a review of why and how to use it on Why Inflate Your Bait? where they actually talk about the Lindy Worm Blower.

6. Sense of Smell and Taste

Bullheads have excellent sense of smell and taste. The angler benefits and suffers from the effects of this ability. By allowing the bullhead to locate your scented bait, you can take advantage of the fish’s keen sense of smell.

However, if bullheads detect any amount of gas, oil, insect repellent, or sunscreen that came into contact with the bait, it could be detrimental to the angler. Before working with the bait, wear gloves to keep your stealth mode on, the one I use is the KastKing Mountain Mist Fishing Gloves.

Catch and Clean Review

7. Shadows and Bullheads

When a shadow crosses the water, bullheads will retreat and hide. They conclude that a nearby predator created the shadow. This is not taken seriously by anglers who fish in muddy waters because muddy waters make it difficult for fish to see. However, fishing beneath your boat in clear water during the day will make it difficult to catch bullheads.

8. Winter Fishing

Winter bullhead fishing is also possible. When the water temperature drops, they will move to deeper water. Drop a rig that has been baited with chicken liver into the hole. After allowing it to reach the bottom, crank the reel handle until the bait is one foot above the water. Bullheads will be drawn to this. You can also check out Catching and Handling Bullheads and Catfish where they talk about bait, handling and cleaning too.

9. Bullheads and Water That Stays Still

Bullheads like water that stays still; consequently, areas devoid of bullheads will have water currents. Bullheads are typically found in water that is less than ten feet deep. Bullheads are able to withstand warmer water temperatures and lower oxygen levels than other species of fish, so you can still find them in shallow water even on the hottest days.

10. Pectoral and Dorsal Fins of the Bullhead

The spines on the bullhead’s pectoral and dorsal fins are razor-sharp. When you handle bullheads, be careful. Always position your hand to avoid the dorsal spine when gripping the bullhead around the pectoral spines. Use a towel to keep your hand out of the bullhead at all times.

Being done with the Top 10, if you are an absolute beginner that wants a comprehensive guide on how to fish for them then you should check on How to Catch a Catfish which does have some good tips that veterans might be surprised to hear.


If everything mentioned so far comes as no surprise to you or is just something you’ve already known, you could instead check on 20 Great Tips for Catching More Bullheads to perfect the art of catching them, a lot of them.

Once you’ve got your fish, its time to eat them and what needs to be known is that it is an oily fish with a mild flavor, making it a great candidate for many types of recipes.

How to Fry Catfish

Catfish fillets are often used in fried or baked recipes, but catfish nuggets are becoming more popular as well. Catfish nuggets are formed from ground catfish fillets and then breaded and fried. My personal favorite is frying them and you should definitely give it a try. If you want to fish for trout, you can check out my earlier post 10 Trout Fishing Tips for Beginners too.