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Channel catfish illustration

Channel Catfish

North Dakota Game Species

Catfish Family: Catfish family members range in size from small to large and get their name from their whisker-like barbels.

Channel Catfish Identification

  • adipose fins
  • whisker-like barbels
  • No scales
  • Deeply forked tail
  • Grayish brown color
  • Anal fin with 24-29 rays
  • Small channel cats often have small black body spots


Channel catfish do not have scales, and their smooth skin contains taste buds across their entire body.

The channel catfish is our most widespread member of the catfish family.

Channel catfish have relatively poor vision, and use their highly developed sense of taste to locate food in turbid waters.

The Red River, Missouri River and Lake Oahe are excellent catfishing locations.

Catfish are an underutilized resource in the state and are excellent eating.

Large channel catfish in North Dakota can exceed 30 pounds and live more than 20 years.