Bullhead Catfish Profile

Bullhead Catfish Profile

Bullhead catfish are small, but can make for some fast action fishing if you find a good spot.

How To Catch Bullhead Catfish

Bullhead catfish can be caught either under a bobber or with a bottom rig, like a sliding sinker. I have had the best success using a sliding sinker and a worm. There are many different baits that people swear by. Some baits to start with are worms, cheese, SlimJims, corn or shrimp. If there is a high population, your chances of catching them during the day are good. However, the most productive time to catch them is in the hour before and after sunset.



If you can find a good population of bullheads, then they can be really easy to catch. They aren’t very picky about what bait you use as long as it tastes good and fits in their mouth. This is a good fish for kids because the action can be fairly quick.



Bullheads put up an ok fight, but they just don’t grow very big, so they can’t be compared to bigger fish. Use an ultralight fishing rod and they can be a lot more fun to catch.



Bullheads aren’t a very popular fish to eat. This is mostly due to their size. However, catfish in general are one of American’s favorite fish. There isn’t anything wrong with the taste of bullhead, you just have to decide if the effort of cleaning, skinning and cooking them is worth the small amount of meat.

Max Weight

6.6 lbs.

The average sized bullhead is probably going to weigh around 1 pound. A 2 pounder would be a pretty nice fish. That being said, the biggest bullhead caught weighed in at 6.6 pounds!

Max Length


A 20 inch bullhead would be a very rare catch. They are much more common in the 8 to 12 inch range.

Average Age

5 years

Although in the best conditions, bullhead catfish can live up to around 10 years, the average lifespan is closer to 5 years. Their predators are birds, anglers, and bigger catfish.


Bullhead catfish are native throughout most of the United States, and can be found to some degree in each of the lower 48. The highest concentrations however will be found East of the Rocky Mountains. I have personally had good success in the West, catching bullheads out of the Willamete River near Portland, Oregon.

bullhead range


Bullheads generally like slow moving or still water. Since they don’t grow to be very big, they can do well in small ponds. The water can be silty or clean. They like muddy bottoms, sunken logs, branches, and bushes that they can hind in to ambush prey and hide from predators.


Bullhead catfish eat worms, snails, freshwater clams, crawfish and even minnows. Bullheads in general are scavengers and will eat anything that tastes like food and fits in their mouth.

Fishing Tackle For Bullhead Catfish


Bullhead catfish have big mouths for their size. However the best hook size would be around a size 8 to 10 baitholder. The baitholder hooks have small barbs on the shank that help to keep your bait on the hook.


Since bullheads are small fish, you really don’t need anything bigger than 4 lb. test mono or fluoro. However, they aren’t very line shy, so if you already have 6 to 8 lb. test line, then you’ll be fine. Click the link above for more.


May anglers keep it simple when fishing for bullhead catfish. You can start by simply clipping a bobber onto your line two to three feet above your hook. If you want to fish the bottom, then use a sliding sinker rig.


Bullheads are scavengers and opportunistic eaters. Because of this, there is a wide variety of possible baits. Some baits I have had success with have been worms and corn. Hotdogs, SlimJims, and shrimp are also popular. You can even try lively baits like minnows and crickets.


Although it is possible to catch bullhead catfish on lures, it is not very likely. You will have much better success using the baits I mentioned above.

Rod and Reel

You don’t need a special rod and reel to catch bullheads. However, since they are relatively small, they can be more fun to catch with an ultralight setup.


The best bobbers to use for bullhead catfish are the thin cigar shaped floats. These are much more sensitive than the round bobbers. You’ll be able to detect the bites easier and catch more fish.

Hook Remover

Bullheads have large mouths, and have a tendency to swallow the hook. This is where a hook remover can come in handy. But by using a sensitive bobber and setting the hook quickly you can usually prevent them from swallowing the hook in the first place.


Can a bullhead sting you?

Bullhead catfish do not have teeth that can harm you, but they do have sharp spines in their pectoral and dorsal fins. If you want to hold them, do so carefully.

Are bullheads good catfish bait?

Bullhead catfish are one of the best baits to use to catch blue and flathead catfish. You can fish them live or as cut bait. They often work better than bluegill.

Are bullhead catfish invasive?

Bullhead catfish are native to North America. However, they have been introduced to other parts of the world and become invasive. Black bullhead in particular have become an invasive species in Great Britain. Here is a link to an article about the issue from GOV.UK.

When do bullheads start biting?

Bullhead catfish are more active when the waters are warm in the summer months. They become the most active during the evening.