Show us your blue catfish catch! Collaborate with scientists at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center to help us track the expanding range of the non-native blue catfish into the upper Chesapeake Bay and into Delaware Bay and the Delaware River.
Native to the Mississippi, Ohio and Missouri Rivers, blue catfish were introduced to Virginia for sport fishing beginning in 1974. Since introduction, these non-native top predators have expanded their range into many of Maryland’s tributaries, including the Nanticoke, Patuxent, Choptank, Susquehanna and Sassafras Rivers. Due to their large size and adult predatory feeding behavior, blue catfish are consuming many native fish species, such as white perch, largemouth bass, American shad, river herring and menhaden. Knowing where and when these catfish are being caught is an important part of understanding their rising impact on the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem. Remember that it is illegal in Maryland, Virginia, and Delaware to transport and release live blue catfish.
Identifying Blue Catfish
Blue catfish (Ictalurus furcatus) have a bluish-gray body and a deeply forked tail. Unlike channel catfish, they do not have spots on their body. One feature that distinguishes blue catfish from other catfishes is the prominent straight edge on their anal fin; other catfishes, including the similarly colored white catfish, have a rounded anal fin (see pictures on website).