The channel catfish (Ictalurus punctatus) is the most commonly caught and eaten catfish in the Coosa River. The channel cat usually has a color between brown and grey and usually has small, dark spots on its body. Like the blue catfish, its tail is forked. Unlike the blue cat, its anal fin is curved and not straight. They have a strong sense of smell and taste, but it doesn’t bother them too much – they’ll eat just about anything! They like the lake life, but are also at home in larger rivers and ponds.
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The blue catfish (Ictalurus furcatus) is similar to the channel cat, but can grow larger. The blue cat is a pale blue color. Their anal fin is straight, not curved, and if you really feel like counting, has 30+ rays compared to the channel cat which has less than 30 rays. Their tail is forked like a channel cat, but usually more deeply. They like large waterbodies, even better if they are clear with moving water. They love to feed below the dams on the Coosa’s and scoop up whatever smells good that day.
The flathead catfish (Pylodictis olivaris) is quite distinct from a blue or channel cat. They live their life generally in the same types of places and feeding on the same things as blues and channel cats. Their head is, not surprisingly, quite flat – it almost looks like the backside of a shovel! Their color is a mess of browns, yellows, blacks and whites- very mottled. Their anal fin is short like a channel cat and rounded. Their tail is not forked like blues and channel cats.