Post date: Saturday, March 3, 2012 - 16:19
Updated date: 2/8/17
Spotted Bullhead, Ameiurus serracanthus


The spotted bullhead is possibly the most beautiful of the bullhead species. It is a striking fish with white or light gray spots. The dorsal fin is heavily serrated, and the edges of the fins are black. Spotted Bullheads can be found in small rivers of the Florida panhandle and extreme southern Alabama and Georgia. Identification of this fish is easy; it is the only North American catfish with light round spots on a dark body.


Other namesSpotted Catfish, Calico Catfish, Snail Cat.


Barbels and Spiny Fins: All bullheads have eight barbels around the mouth - which are used for tasting and smelling the water. The barbels are harmless. However, bullheads also have three sharp spines one at the front of each pectoral and the dorsal fin. Watch out for those spines! The spines can deliver a painful sting - they are coated in an irritant toxin that can cause pain and swelling around the wound. Immersing the wound in water that is as hot as the wounded person can tolerate will detoxify the irritant and relieve the pain. 




Spotted Bullheads, unlike many of the bullhead tribe, prefer hard-bottom areas with current. They often associate with rocky and gravelly areas, woody cover, sand, and ledge rock. Look for them in large streams and smallish rivers with clear water and fairly intact riparian areas. If you are looking to add the Spotted Bullhead to your life list (and honestly, who isn't?), you should concentrate your efforts in these river systems: the Suwanee River, the Santa Fe River, the Chocktawhatchee River, the Chipola River, the St. Marks River, the Ochlockonee River, the Apalachicola River, Uchee Creek, the Flint River, the Withlacoochee River, and the Chattahoochee River. Many of these streams are calcium-rich limestone spring streams, making the water slightly milky and providing for lots of food for hungry spotted bullheads.





Standard bullhead tactics will work for spotted bullheads, although this fish has some unique features which might require some adjustment. Their tendency to hang out in current means more weight might be necessary when targeting them, and it might make float-fishing impractical. These catfish can be caught day or night. With larger eyes than more common bullgheads, they are obviously more diurnal than some of their fellows. Spotted bullheads feed heavily on snails, so baits like snail, mussel, clam, or squid (molluscs) might be good to try if you are specifically targeting spotted bullheads. Drift-fishing or trotting a float rig along a deep rip-rapped bank would probably be a deadly tactic, and I imagine a light flyrod with a buggy-looking nymph would work nearly as well.



Range Map

Photo Credits:

Moose439, Dr. Flathead

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