Keith “Catfish” Sutton
ART/ CREATIVE DIRECTOR
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Cover Photo Credit
Skinny water rules! Guide Scott Peavy (left) and Jackson Sutton with a 55-pounder Sutton caught from a shallow hump on Lake Marion, SC, fishing mid-day. (Terry Madewell photo)
Amazing Facts About Catfish
Have you ever wondered how many species of catfish swim in the waters of the world? I have, so this month I did a bit of online research to see what I could learn.
As it turns out, catfish comprise an incredibly large and diverse group of animals—much larger, in fact, than most people realize. To date, more than 3,400 species have been described. This means that about one in four species (23 percent) of all freshwater fishes is a catfish. One in 10 species (11 percent) of all fishes, including every saltwater and freshwater fish now known, is a catfish. One in 20 species of all vertebrates—which includes all mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish—is a catfish.
Even with this large number of described species, scientists estimate that several hundred more species of catfishes remain to be described. Field research now underway in locations around the world is turning up new species almost every day. These include species like the newly discovered Horaglanis populi, a blind, blood-red catfish that spends its entire life underground in the aquifers of India, and six new species of bristlenose catfish discovered in the Amazon. The latter have tentacles on their snouts and body armor that includes gaudy head spines.
Scientists say within the next few years, the number of recognized catfish species could climb to 4,500 or more.
North America north of Mexico is home to just 45 catfish species, quite a meager collection compared to other continents. But what we lack in quantity, we make up in quality. The “big three” of North American catfish—channel, blue and flathead—rank among the world’s largest. Other species popular with American anglers include the white catfish and several species of bullheads.
When we go fishing, it’s important to understand that each species of catfish exhibits unique behaviors. Blue cats are different than channel cats, channel cats are different than flatheads and so forth. Understanding the differences helps us target each species properly, thus increasing our success rate and allowing us to better enjoy each precious hour on the water.
That’s where CatfishNOW magazine can help. Reading the articles we post online each month will help you learn everything you need to know about catfish and their behaviors so you’ll be a more successful angler. So read on, enjoy and learn.
I’ll see you downstream.
Keith “Catfish” Sutton, Editor