Flathead Catfish

SCIENTIFIC NAME: Pylodictis olivaris

CHARACTERISTICS: In Alabama, the flathead is the only large catfish with a head that is flattened between the eyes, a projecting lower jaw, and recurved tooth patches on either side of the upper jaw. The back and sides of the body and fins are mottled with black, white, olive, and even pale yellow, with the venter white or pale yellow. The short, rounded anal fin contains 14 to 18 rays. The caudal fin is slightly notched, and the top of the upper lobe is white on all but extremely large individuals. See Rafinesque (1818b) for original description.

ADULT SIZE: 18 to 24 in (460 to 610 mm). The state angling record (80 lb) was caught in the Alabama River near Selma in 1986. We have collected flatheads in the 30- to 50-pound class from the Tennessee River drainage south to the Alabama River and also in the tail-waters of several locks and dams.