Upper Peninsula of Michigan

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Brown Bullhead

Scientific Name: Brown Bullhead (Ictalurus nebulosus)

Habitats: Marten Lake, Perch Lake

Edibility Score:

Toxicity Level: High

State Recommended Max Servings Per Month: 1

Family : Bullhead Catfishes (Ictaluridae)

Brown Bullhead (Ictalurus nebulosus)

Brown bullhead: Northern brown bullhead, marbled bullhead, marble cat, mudcat, speckled cat, bullpout.

Bullheads: Brown – Black Bullhead, Brown Bullhead and Yellow Bullhead.  All bullheads are scaleless, and have eight barbels or “whiskers” around their mouth.  Black lower whiskers for Brown and Black bullhead, and White lower whiskers for yellow bullhead.  Bullhead tail fins can identify the type with Black Bullhead having a slightly notched at the midpoint <, Brown Bullhead having a straight tail |, and Yellow Bullhead having a Rounded Tail ).

Bullheads generally prefer warm, shallow water, where they are usually associated with the bottom. They prefer abundant weed growth with mud to sand bottoms, but can also be found in shallow areas of less productive lakes.

Bullhead are some of the best eating fish out there when they’re cleaned and prepared properly. Their meat is lighter and slightly sweeter than other catfish.

Bullheads are tuff fish very well known for the ability to inflict a sting from a  sharp spine at the base of the dorsal (on the back) and pectoral (on the side behind the gills) fins of the bullhead.. The pain can last for a week or more. The sting is caused by small glands near their fins that produce a poison which causes the swelling.  Bullhead bites hurt because of their rows of needle-like teeth and strong bite.

Bullheads have a rounded tail which will help you distinguish them from small channel catfish that have a forked tail. Bullheads have no scales, their bodies are covered with taste buds, and will be very slippery to handle. Finally, bullheads have a single, sharp spine in the dorsal and pectoral fins.

The bullhead is a very tough fish, frequently surviving after other species have long since died.
Bullheads can tolerate acidic waters with low oxygen and high carbon dioxide levels, were other fish cannot.

Health : Local waters have PCBs, dioxin, mercury, PFOS, and other chemicals that can be found in fish and stay in our environment for a very long time.

Be aware of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services – The Eat Safe Fish Guide (ESF Guide)

Wisconsin has the a health guide for eating fish in Wisconsin – Choose Wisely Contaminate Advisories for Wisconsin

Fishing Season


Northern Wisconsin - Brown Bullhead

Cannot locate any regulations on the Brown Bullhead.

No daily limit and open all year.



Upper Peninsula of Michigan - Brown Bullhead nuisance species.

Cannot locate any regulations on the Brown Bullhead.

No daily limit and open all year.


WI Fishing Hook & Line Record

Wisconsin Record Brown Bullhead.

Weight - 4 lbs. 2 oz. Length 17.5 Inches.

Date - 07/07/2006

Location Little Green Lake Green Lake County.

Wisconsin Hook and Line Records for Fishing

MI Fishing Hook & Line Record

Michigan Record Brown Bullhead.

Weight - 3.77 lbs. Length 17.5 Inches.

Date - 2014

Type - Bowfishing Arrow

Location Alcona Dam Pond Alcona County.

Michigan Hook and Line Records for Fishing
DNR Master Angler Michigan.gov Program and Map

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