Black Bullhead Catfish
The color ranges from dark brown to black on top to yellow and white on the belly. The color is never mottled in appearance as brown bullheads are. The dorsal fin is fairly long, but not very deep. There is a small adipose fin. The caudal (tail) fin has rounded corners but comes straight down to give it the squared appearance and has 15 to 18 rays. The anal fin has 19 to 25 rays so is pretty decent size.
The gill rakers have from 16 to 18 rays. The pectoral fins have spines which actually carry a small amount of venom which can cause a stinging pain for up to a week. The barbells do not cause the sting but past confusion probably gave rise to such a belief. The average weight is one to two pounds and they almost never get as large as five pounds.
After several pairings, perhaps five in the course of an hour, the spawning can be noticed by a quivering in the female. Females produce between 2,000 and 3,800 eggs. The female guards the nest for the first day. The male then watches over the nest for up to about ten additional days. The eggs hatch within four to ten days. The fry then stay close to the male for up to two weeks. An average lifespan is five years, but can range up to ten years.
The Accidental Catch
Did You Know?
Long before the Bighorn River was tamed by the Yellowtail Dam, the roiling waters through the canyon were feared. During spring snowmelt, the water turned into a raging torrent, a combination of whirlpools, rapids, and eddies. Conversely, the river through the canyon had a reputation for being placid by late summer, when dry heat and lack of rainfall turned it into a sedate stream. More...