Sunday, August 5, 2012

Identifying Spawning Channel Catfish

With the channel cat spawn coming to a close, I'd like to mention how you can identify if they are spawning by the fish itself. There are other methods to identify when the channel cats spawn such as water temperature or even the moon but I will save this for another post. In general, channel cat fishing is slower during spawning periods so determining if the fish are spawning can help you to better focus your efforts. Its important to note that channels don't all spawn at exactly the same time, even in the same body of water. During peak spawning periods we tend to focus on other species that are more productive at the given time. In southern Ohio we typically see the most spawning activity in late June.

Lets start by distinguishing the difference between a male and female channel cat. The the size of the males head is noticeably larger than that of a females. When looking at them from the top the males head is often the widest part of their body. It's a little bit harder to tell in the side angle pictures. The head size is the easiest way to determine the sex when looking back at old pictures.
Female Channel Catfish
Male Channel Catfish
Female Channel Catfish
Male Channel Catfish
Males are the easiest to identify while spawning. Their already large heads swell up and they turn a darker shade of grey/blue. The picture below shows a fine example of a spawning male channel catfish.
Spawning Male Channel Catfish
Notice the extremely swollen head and dark color. The female is harder to identify while spawning. They tend to be fatter because they are carrying eggs. I've also read that their genitalia appears to be red although these are not things you can reliably tell from typical pictures.

By no means are we experts at identifying the sex of channels or if they are spawning. These are just the guidelines that we use when identifying these traits ourselves. There are much more scientific methods with more exact results but for the angler we do not need to get this precise.

2 comments:

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