BROWN BULLHEAD

How to identify a Brown Bullhead

The brown bullhead may vary from yellow-brown or chocolate brown to olive, gray, or bluish-black. The sides are often lighter and may be mottled with brown blotches and the belly is yellow or white. Very round brown bullheads are jet black and are often mistakenly believed to be black bullheads. Coloration is not a dependable distinguishing characteristic with this species and it is important to observe other physical characteristics in order to make a positive identification. The brown bullhead and the yellow bullhead have sharp, tooth-like serrations along the rear edge of the pectoral spine, found at the top of the pectoral fin. The black bullhead lacks any such serrations or has only extremely weak serrations that are negligible by comparison. In the brown and black bullheads, the tail is squarish (truncate) or slightly emarginate, while in the yellow bullhead the tail is slightly rounded. The brown bullhead is frequently mottled while the yellow is never mottled and its chin barbels are yellow, buff, or pale pink in color (the upper barbels are light to dark brown). In the brown bullhead all of the barbels are dark brown to nearly black, but in some cases there may be pale yellow or white at the base of the chin barbels only.

Where to catch Brown Bullhead

The brown bullhead is native to the eastern United States (both sides of the Appalachians) and southern Canada, but has been widely introduced elsewhere. It occurs in larger and deeper bodies of water than other bullheads.

IDENTIFICATION

How to Identify a Brown Bullhead
 1 Sharp, tooth-like serrations along the rear edge of the pectoral spine, found at the top of the pectoral fin

 2 Body is yellow-brown or chocolate brown to olive, gray, or bluish-black in color

 3 Barbels are dark brown to nearly black

TARGET AREAS

  • Cliffs and Steep Shore Banks
  • Dams and Falls
  • Freshwater Lakes and Ponds
  • Holes
  • Inside Turns and Coves
  • Overhanging Trees and Bushes
  • Points and Break Lines
  • Rocks
  • Spring Holes
  • Undercuts
  • Current Edges
  • Drop-Offs
  • Gradual Shores
  • Inlets and Outlets
  • Open Water
  • Piers, Docks and Pilings
  • Rock and Boulder Pockets
  • Shoreline Shallows
  • Sunken Objects
  • Walkways and Bridges

Acknowledgements:  We thank TAKEMEFISHING.org (www.takemefishing.org), Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Indiana Department of Natural Resources for their contributions to these FISH FACTS.

Acknowledgements:  We thank TAKEMEFISHING.org (www.takemefishing.org), Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources for their contributions to these FISH FACTS.

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