Also known as
butter cat, yellow cat, creek cat, white-whiskered bullhead, greaser, bullhead, yellow bristlemouthBack to Top
What they look like
Ameiurus means "primitive or curtailed" in reference to the notch in the distal end of the caudal fin, and natalis is Latin for "having large buttocks”. Yellow bullheads are scaleless and typically their body patterning and color has solid color predominates, but may be somewhat mottled on lower flanks. The body is usually black to yellowish brown, with a white or yellow belly. The fins are darkly pigmented. Yellow bullhead mouth has patches of numerous fine teeth on its jaws. They have 8 obvious barbels (4 pairs; 2 pair on the chin, 1 pair on the side of its upper jaw (near corner of mouth), 1 pair on top of the snout). It can be distinguished from brown and black bullheads by the almost clear, or unpigmented, chin barbels. The yellow also has more rays in the anal fin, usually 23 to 27, compared with 16-23 in the brown and black. The tail is not notched, and may be slightly rounded.
Breeding adults are similar in color and appearance to non-breeders. Juveniles are similar to adults, although less likely to have yellow hues.Back to Top
Where they live
Yellow bullhead preferred habitat are pools, backwaters, and slow-flowing current over soft substrate in creeks and small to large rivers, oxbows, ponds, and impoundments. Yellow bullheads prefer clearer water than the other bullheads.
The yellow bullhead are not common in Washington, occurring mostly in the lower reaches of a few eastside streams. The first introduction of yellow bullheads in Washington was probably in 1905 in the lower Columbia River, when display fish were released following the Lewis and Clark 100-year exposition in Portland. They are reportedly common in the Willamette Valley of Oregon.Back to Top
What they eat
The yellow bullhead are a voracious scavenger typically feeding at night or near the bottom during the day on minnows, snails, worms and crayfish both live and dead. They also will feed on insect larvae, vegetation and decaying organic matter. Scent and taste play a vital role in their feeding.Back to Top
Although yellow bullheads rarely achieve edible size, some may grow to 18 inches and weigh up to 4 pounds or more. On average, the yellow bullhead can live up to 7 years.Back to Top
Spawning begins late spring or early summer with both sexes participating in nest building. Yellow bullheads excavate nests in mud bottoms under a log or stone or in a similarly enclosed burrow. Both parents guard the nest, which may contain 2,000 to 12,000 eggs. In four to six days eggs hatch and fry begin to school in compact balls which are guarded by the parents until individuals reach about one inch in length.Back to Top
1 lb. 10.8 oz. caught in Banks Lake, Grant County by angler Mike Schlueter on May 22, 1994