Home to three different types of catfish – white catfish, channel catfish, and blue catfish – Maryland offers a range of opportunities. Novice and avid sportsmen alike can meet their catfish expectations here in Maryland. From reeling in a world-class, 100-plus pound blue catfish, to hooking the small, energetic white catfish, Maryland offers a little something for every skill set.
The white catfish is the only species native to the Chesapeake Bay, and it’s the smallest of the large North American catfish species. White catfish lack scales and possess an adipose fin, as well as a single, often serrated spine in the dorsal and pectoral fins. They are bluish-gray on their back and sides and white underneath. Their tail is moderately forked and they have a noticeably broad head, large mouth and stout body and are smaller in size than channel catfish. While they are primarily a tidal water species, they can also be found in freshwater lakes, ponds, rivers and streams, living in mud-bottom pools, open channels, and the backwaters of small and large rivers.
Channel catfish are one of the largest species found in North America, weighing up to sixty pounds. They are long slender fish with barbels on the chin that look like long black whiskers. There are four pairs of barbels around the mouth, two on the chin, one at the angle of the mouth, and one behind the nostril. They are generally gray to greenish-gray on the upper part of its slender body, silver to white on the lower half and belly and has a deeply forked tail. Small adults and juveniles have black or dusky spots on their body. As a non-native species, channel catfish have become very successful in tidal and non-tidal waters across the state.
Blue catfish are the largest of the North American catfish and can easily exceed 100 pounds. They are generally slate blue on the back to silvery/white on the underside and have a deeply forked tail. The native range of blue catfish extends from Minnesota and Ohio southward into Mexico. They prefer the large river basins of the Ohio, Mississippi, and Missouri River drainages. However, due to extensive introductions, their current range incorporates several Atlantic drainage systems as well. As an introduced species, blue catfish have become very successful in the Potomac River and in several Virginia tributaries to the Chesapeake Bay.