White Mountains Online



In Arizona's White Mountains we've got catfish too!

Angler's both young and old enjoy year around fishing in the White Mountains. Catfish are just one of the many species of fish available to the avid fisherman! In Arizona, anglers may take fish by one line with hooks or artificial lures. Purchase of a "two pole"stamp on Arizona's fishing license allows anglers to fish simultaneously with two poles.

Fishing in Arizona is governed by Arizona State Law. A valid fishing license is required. Licenses may be obtained from the Arizona Game & Fish Department or any authorized vendor.

Flathead Catfish
(Pylodictis olivaris)

World Record: 91 lbs. 4 oz.

Arizona Record: 65 lbs. at San Carlos Lake in 1951

Description: Non-native to Arizona, Flathead Catfish were introduced to Arizona in the 1940's. The back and sides of the flathead are mottled, dark-brown to yellow-brown. The belly is yellowish-white. The head of the flathead is broad and flat with small eyes. Flathead's have a large mouth, with the lower jaw projecting beyond the upper jaw. Adipose fin is large; Tail fin is flat or slightly notched. The length of the flathead ranges from 12 to 52 inches. Weight from 1 to 65 pounds.

Location & Habitat: Found in the lower Colorado River near Yuma, Gila River, Salt River, Verde River systems and reservoirs. Found near cover, in deeper, slower moving pools of rivers. Often congregate in swift water below dams to feed on live fish. Flatheads spawn in spring or early summer, building nests in caves, depressions under rocks or undercut banks.

Food habits: Young flatheads (up to ten inches) eat insects and crayfish, switching to fish diet as they grow older. Typically solitary, territorial and prefer to lie quietly, ambushing their prey, rather than foraging actively.

Angling: Live sunfish or carp, fished close to the bottom of deep pools or in swift water below a dam is effective.

Table Quality: The meat is white, firm, flaky and has an excellent flavor. Fish steaks can be cut from the larger flatheads.

Channel Catfish
(Ictalurus punctatus)

World Record: 58 lbs.

Arizona Record: 35 lbs. 4 oz. at Topock Marsh in 1952

Description: Non-native to Arizona, Channel Catfish were introduced to Arizona in 1903. The Channel Catfish have scattered black spots on a silver or gray colored back and sides with a white belly. Few spots on large adults. Smooth, scaleless skin. 8 barbels of "whiskers". Short base on small adipose fin. Deeply forked tail. Anal fin has 24 to 30 rays and is slightly rounded. Length ranges from 10 to 39 inches. Weight from 12 ounces to over 35 pounds.

Location & Habitat: Channel Catfish are found in most warmwater lakes and rivers. Inhabit deeper stretches of rivers and streams with moderate current. Spawns from April through early June.

Food: Channel catfish will eat almost anything, dead or alive although, they prefer minnows, crayfish, and aquatic insects.

Angling: Effective baits are waterdogs, liver, blood bait, shad, shrimp, anchovies, homemade stink baits, minnows and worms. Contrary to myth, the "whiskers" are harmless to touch and used only to smell, taste and feel as it forages for food. However, the dorsal fin and pectoral fins have a sharp spine which can inflict a painful wound.

Table Quality: The meat is white, tender and sweet when the fish is taken from clear, cool waters.

Information & photo's courtesy Arizona Game & Fish Department. Published with the permission of: Arizona Game & Fish Department Region 1, Pinetop. HC 66, Box 57201, Pinetop, AZ 85935, (928) 367-4281. If you would like to visit the home page for the Arizona Game & Fish Department, you may find the Department at www.gf.state.az.us.