Scales are part of a fish that protects them. They keep a fish safe from injury and predators. Scales also help fish swim faster. You may be asking, all fish have scales, right?
What about catfish? Do they have scales? Read on to discover the truth about catfish and scales. In this guide, we answer this question and more as we learn about catfish.
Do Catfish Have Scales?
No, catfish do not have scales. Many species of fish do not have scales, including catfish. Catfish have leathery skin with a slimy-feeling outer layer. The mucus on the outer skin can help the fish heal from injuries at a fast rate.
This outer layer protects the fish from parasites and diseases, too. The mucus also helps the catfish move through the water quickly and nimbly. So, although catfish do not have scales, there are some benefits to the protective outer layer of skin they have instead.
Catfish is one of the most prolific kinds of fish out there. In fact, there are over 3,000 species of catfish! Here, we’ll examine some of the most common catfish species in North America.
- Bullhead Catfish – The Bullhead Catfish is easy to spot because of its square tailfins. This species can be found in rivers, lakes, and ponds in many parts of North America. This species is less popular with anglers, but it is still good to eat.
- Channel Catfish – There are more Channel Catfish in the United States than any other catfish species. This is the most fished species of catfish. Channel Catfish can be found in rivers, lakes, and ponds. They have four pairs of whiskers. Like most catfish, they have a strong sense of smell and taste.
- Blue Catfish – Blue Catfish are native to many states, including several Southern and Midwestern States. This species thrives in freshwater but can also live in brackish water. Blue Catfish are large and can reach over 100 lbs.
- Flathead – Like the Blue Catfish, the Flathead Catfish can grow to over 100 lbs. This catfish species is olive or brown in color with a white underside. It has small eyes and a large lower jaw. The Flathead is native to areas ranging from the Great Lakes region to Northern Mexico.
- Armored Catfish– This species of catfish has bony plates that overlap to form a sort of protective armor. The Armored Catfish belongs to a family of fish called Callichthyidae. This fish family has an outer layer with two rows of bony plates across their bodies.
Interesting Facts About Catfish
Catfish are fascinating creatures! There are many neat facts about catfish! The following section covers some of the most interesting facts!
- Catfish are great at adapting to different temperatures. They can live in hot or cold waters.
- One species of catfish can walk! The Asian Catfish, or Walking Catfish, can “walk” from one body of water to another.
- The Largest catfish ever caught, a Mekong Giant Catfish, weighed 646 lbs.
- Catfish have amazing senses of taste. They have over 100,000 taste buds!
- Species of catfish can be found all over the world. Catfish live on every continent except Antarctica!
- Some species of catfish can live up to 20 years!
- Catfish have whiskers, also called barbels. Catfish can grow up to 4 pairs of whiskers.
There are many fun things to learn about catfish. They are intelligent and interesting animals to watch!
How do Catfish Avoid Predators?
Without scales, how do catfish protect themselves? Catfish have spines that protect them from harm. These spines are located on their dorsal and pectoral fins. The dorsal fin is on the top of the fish. This fin helps stabilize the fish while moving through the water. The pectoral fins are on the sides of the fish. These fins help the fish change direction in the water.
The spines on these fins can sting other animals and people too. This helps the catfish ward off predators.
How do Catfish Sting?
Most species of catfish don’t have teeth to protect themselves with. They must rely on their protective spines. Catfish spines have venom and can sting other animals. Besides causing some pain, catfish stings are normally harmless. However, they can sometimes cause issues like tissue necrosis. Thankful, this condition is easily treated with antibiotics.
These venomous spines help protect the catfish from predators, and that includes us. It is important to handle catfish carefully and avoid being stung by the spines.
How to Safely Handle Catfish
Use caution any time you handle a catfish. Due to the venom in their spines, catfish must be handled very carefully. To safely handle a catfish, put your hand directly behind the dorsal and pectoral fins. The part of your hand between your thumb and forefinger should be pressed against the back of the dorsal fin without getting stung by it.
You must always grasp a catfish firmly to keep it from wiggling too much. If you hold it too loosely, it will be easier for the fish to sting you with its fins.
Tips for Catching Catfish
Fishing for catfish is a popular pastime for angling enthusiasts. Catfish is one of the most popular fish for fishing. Catching catfish can be a fun and relaxing experience. The following section lays out some tips for catching catfish.
Bait, Lures, and Hooks
Some people use fishing lures for catfish fishing. Spinners and jigs can work well, and other kinds of lures like soft plastic baits. Most people use bait. Many different types of bait can work for catching catfish.
Some of the most popular bait for catching catfish include minnows, baitfish, night crawlers, and insects like crickets and grasshoppers. Some people use smelly baits like cheese or livers. Catfish really like live baits and smelly baits, but they aren’t too picky about what they eat.
The best hook to fish with will depend on the bait you are using and where you are located. Circle hooks are one of the most common fishing hooks for catfish. This hook is so named because of its circular shape. It has one sharp point with a barb on end. This hook works well with many baits, including worms, crickets, minnows, and artificial baits.
Treble hooks are also popular. This hook is three hooks in one and can be great for catching large catfish. However, it is not legal everywhere. Make sure you do some research before using this hook. Treble hooks work great with baits like cheese or liver.
Best Time for Catching Catfish
When is the best time to go fishing for catfish? Nighttime hours too early morning hours are the ideal times to catch catfish. Catfish tend to be more active at night. Nighttime is widely considered to be the best time to fish for catfish. So, go once it gets dark or early in the morning to have the best chance of catching a lot of catfish.
Spring and early summer are the best parts of the year for catfish fishing. Catfish are more active during these months because that is their spawning season. Catfish can be caught any time of the year, however, but you may get fewer bites.
Fish in shallow waters. Catfish typically move to shallower waters after the sun goes down. Light may help attract catfish to your hook. Shining a flashlight into the water may attract smaller animals, like small fish, that is food for the catfish. This can be a clever way to help draw catfish toward your bait.
The most important thing about catching catfish is patience. You need patience and persistence to be a great angler! Fishing for catfish is an enjoyable way to spend a quiet evening or morning. Once you have a catfish on the hook, just be careful! They’re slippery!
Key Takeaways About Catfish
Hopefully, you have enjoyed learning the mystery of why catfish don’t have scales! Catfish are fascinating animals and are fun to learn about. They may not have scales, but they do have a leathery skin with a protective outer layer of mucous. They also have spikes on their fins that contain venom. These spikes help protect the catfish.
You must use caution when handling a catfish. Handly them safely by holding them behind the fins and avoiding the venomous spines. Stings from catfish are mostly harmful but can be painful!
When fishing for catfish, be sure to use the appropriate hook for your bait. Nighttime hours are the best time for fishing for catfish, as they are more active at these times.
Hopefully, you found this article interesting! If you have enjoyed learning about catfish in this article, share it with your friends! If you want to learn more about catfish, and other species of fish, visit Reel Passion for more information! Be sure to sign up for our newsletter so that you can stay up to date on all the latest fishing information!