The channel catfish is the most familiar American catfish. It is found throughout the entire Mid Atlantic region in lakes, rivers, and creeks. It tolerates considerably brackish water and is sometimes found in the Chesapeake Bay, Delaware Bay, or other estuaries.
Channel catfish are identified by their slender head and body, forked tail and curved anal fin. Their coloration ranges from almost black to olive-green, depending local water conditions. Channel catfish reach lengths of 28 inches and can weigh 10 pounds or more.
Fishing for channel catfish varies slightly among regions, but most anglers catch them using the same basic techniques. Catfish prefer cut baits, fished on or near the bottom. Popular baits for catching channel cats include shrimp, crab, clam, bloodworms, nightcrawlers, chicken livers, and other baits. Like other catfish species, they can be caught during the day, but fishing often improves after dark.
Occasionally, anglers fishing for largemouth bass or other species are surprised to catch channel catfish. They readily take plastic worms and other soft baits that are fished near the bottom.
Channel catfish yield lean, boneless fillets. The flesh is firm and usually has excellent flavor although some fish seem to develop a less appealing taste during the summer season.