- Black sea bass have dangerously sharp spines on their dorsal fin that can puncture human skin.
- The all-tackle world record for black sea bass is 9 pounds, 8 ounces.
- When hooked in deep water and brought quickly to the surface, a black sea bass will often regurgitate its stomach contents.
Brown bullhead (Ameiurus)
The color of the brown bullhead is not always brown, often ranging from a yellowish, olive-colored brown to dark brown with dark mottlings on the side. Regardless of the dominant color, it always fades to a white, yellow or cream color on the belly. Its head is relatively large for the slender, round body, along with a fairly large mouth that features whisker-like barbels above, below and to the side. Like all members of the catfish family, the brown bullhead has no scales, only a slick, slimy skin.
It can be easily distinguished from the black bullhead by the lack of a light-colored bar at the base of the tail fin and black coloration in the membrane between the rays of the fin. Brown bullhead also have darker barbels than the yellow and has a square, somewhat notched tail compared to the yellow’s more rounded tail. Distinguishing between the brown and black bullhead is often more difficult, especially when they take on similar color. The pectoral spine on the pectoral fin of the brown bullhead has sharp, toothlike serrations, but the black bullhead shows very weak serrations or none at all.
Brown bullhead are native to the eastern United States and southern Canada but have been widely introduced and now thrive well beyond their native range. In North America, the northern range extends from Nova Scotia in the east to Saskatchewan in the west. The southern boundary ranges from Louisiana in the west to northern Florida in the east. The greatest concentrations occur in the Great Lakes area and Mississippi River basins.
Brown bullhead are typically found in warm, stagnant waters of farm ponds, small and large creeks, pools of large and small rivers, as well as many natural lakes and reservoirs. They prefer soft bottoms, and unlike other bullhead, the brown bullhead is found in several large, deep bodies of water. It is able to withstand low oxygen levels, and is known to bury itself in the mud to survive such conditions. The brown bullhead can adapt to a wide range in water temperatures, anywhere from 32 to 90 F.
Brown bullhead spawn in the spring, usually in late April or May. Male fish create a saucer-shaped nest in the mud, as well as any natural cavity in the lake or river bottom. The female deposits 2,000 to 10,000 eggs that are guarded by both parents during the incubation period, which is usually 5 to 8 days. Brown bullhead fry are often dark black in color and tend to travel in large schools after hatching.
The brown bullhead lives largely on insect larvae, crustaceans, snails, small crayfish, worms and small minnows. Like other bullheads, it has a ravenous appetite and feeds eagerly on just about anything available. They travel in schools, generally feeding on or near the bottom. A large part of the diet consists of midgefly larvae, called bloodworms because of their red color, which the brown bullhead picks up from the soft, muddy bottom. Though they are known to feed at any time, the brown bullhead is most generally a nocturnal feeder.
The brown bullhead is popular among many anglers because of its tasty meat and the many ways it can be prepared. The fish is not exploited, however, because of inactivity and their tendency to feed mostly at night feeding.
Their fighting ability is moderate at best. Although they won’t make long, powerful runs like large catfish, brown bullheads will stubbornly shake and roll until landed and are excellent sport on ultralight spinning tackle. And they can be caught in substantial numbers when an actively feeding school is found.
Brown bullhead have an excellent olfactory sense, which makes the use of prepared baits with strong odors particularly effective. But like other bullheads, the brown usually isn’t picky about bait selection; however, they are rarely taken on artificial lures. Popular live baits include worms, leeches, small pieces of chicken or beef liver, and many types of minnows (alive or dead).
Tackle selection is fairly simple: Basic ultralight- or light-action spinning or spin-casting tackle works well for presenting small baits and makes for better sport than heavier tackle. Often, only a cane pole, line, bobber, hook and bait are all that’s required.
� The largest brown bullhead caught on rod and reel weighed 5 pounds, 11ounces, caught in Alabama.
� Sharp spines on the pectoral and dorsal fins can cause pain and swelling if a brown bullhead is handled carelessly. When handling a hooked fish, the hand should grip the fish from the head down while folding the spines downward against the fish�s body.
�Commonly referred to as a "Horned Pout" in the New Hampshire area.