Channel Catfish (Ictalurus punctatus)


In 1997, Gov. Mel Carnahan signed a bill designating the channel catfish (Ictalurus punctatus) the official fish of Missouri. The channel catfish is slender with a deeply forked tail. The young have spots that disappear with age. This fish does not rely on sight to find its food. Instead, it uses catlike whiskers called barbles to probe for its meal. The channel cat is the most abundant large catfish in Missouri streams and rivers. Its diet includes animal and plant materials. Adults are normally 12 to 32 inches long and weigh from one pound to 15 pounds.

The channel catfish is a game fish and can be legally caught in Missouri waters, provided the angler follows regulations. The record-holding largest Missouri channel catfish was 34 pounds 10 ounces, caught by Gerald R. Siebenmorgen in 1974.


Revised Statutes of Missouri (RSMo)

§10.135. Channel catfish state fish. – The channel catfish, scientifically designated as Ictalurus punctatus, is hereby selected for, and shall be known as, the official fish of the state of Missouri. (L. 1997 H.B. 700)

approved 23 May 1997
effective 28 August 1997


Photo Gallery:

Click on an image below to enlarge and read a caption. This will open a new window in the Missouri State Symbols Flickr album.

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Additional Resources:

Search historic issues of the Missouri Conservationist on the Missouri Digital Heritage website.

The Missouri Department of Conservation State Documents Collection at the Missouri State Archives includes several publications on catfish. See the finding aid online.


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