The white bullhead is commonly known as the white catfish. They are a member of the family Ictaluridae and are native to the Eastern United States in coastal river systems (New York to Florida). This easily adaptable fish is now found throughout the US and inhabits lakes, ponds, muddy bottom pools, and riverbeds. In fact, you can find them wherever there is slow moving water.
The white bullhead has eight barbels that they use to navigate through murky waters and find their prey. They hunt aquatic insects, amphibians, worms, fish, and anything else they can find on the bottom. These catfish are most active at dusk and at night.
If you find a mass of gelatinous eggs deposited on the banks or underneath a submerged log, you most likely found baby, white bullheads. They lay their young during the warmer months between April and July where the male will guard the nest and fan fresh water over them.
The white bullhead is sometimes confused with the channel catfish. One of the major differences is the large mouth that spans the width of the body on a bullhead vs. the smaller mouth on a channel catfish. White bullheads are more tolerant to brackish water than the channel catfish too. If you find them in coastal river systems, most likely you’ve caught a bullhead.
The white bullhead varies from dark to light gray, sometimes brownish on the back, fading to light gray on the sides to white on the belly.