Brown Bullhead fish

Lctaluridae family

Other Names: Brown Bullhead fish is widely known as the horned pout, hornpout, mud cat, and mud pout


Brown Bullhead Ameiurus Nebulosus

The Brown Bullhead Catfish (Brown Bullhead) is a fish species widely distributed across North America. Belonging to the catfish family Lctaluridae, this Brown Bullhead fish is widely known as the horned pout, hornpout, mud cat, and mud pout. 

Its scientific name is Ameiurus nebulosus brown, and they are known to tolerate low water quality with low oxygen conditions. They live in the shallows containing low oxygen levels, usually mud-bottomed lakes, ponds, streams, reservoirs, and rivers’ backwaters. 

The hornpout is the most common member of the catfish family. Its dark whiskers or barbels distinguish it from its close relative, the yellow bullhead, which has yellowish whiskers.

Fishing for Bullhead Catfish has become increasingly popular among sports and food anglers over the years.

The Appearance of Horned Pout

The Bullhead Brown is a smooth and slimy-skinned fish species. On average, they grow to be about one foot in length but can grow up to 20 inches long. They have a brown-colored body that tends to be yellowish around the belly. The Horned pout has a broad and flat-head, which is one of the characteristic appearances of catfishes. They have a squared-off tail fin, a pectoral spine, saw-like teeth, and dark chin barbels.

One of the most apparent features is the presence of long and mildly thick whiskers around its mouth. Sharp spines on their fins protect the fish from predators and help them catch prey. 

Its mouth is subterminal; the upper jaw extends slightly past the lower jaw and curves around it. This anatomical design makes it possible for bottom feeding. The Brown Bullhead is considered heavy and can weigh 5.0-7.9 lbs.


The Brown Bullhead is native to freshwater habitats in the United States and Canada. These fish usually live in slow-moving water bodies with a lot of vegetation at the bottom.

The mud pout fish were most abundant in regions including Alabama, New Hampshire, New Brunswick, Vermont, Anacostia River in Maryland, and some areas of Texas. As a result of stocking them for food, they now live in most waters across the United States.

This fish species can withstand a wide range of low and high temperatures. They can also thrive with even deficient oxygen levels and in polluted waters with low water quality. As a result of these three factors, Brown Bullheads are considered survivors and can survive in waters where other fishes will struggle.

Eating and Feeding Habits

The Brown Bullheads are omnivores and bottom feeders, often scouting for food at the bottom of lakes, ponds, and rivers. They are generally not picky eaters. The hornpout will eat worms, leeches, vegetation, snails, smaller fishes, and corn. This knowledge has been used repeatedly by anglers who use corn as bait to catch Bullhead species easily. They will generally eat any smaller baits that will fit into their mouths.

They usually remain hidden for the better part of the day but come out to feed at night. Their poor eyesight relies heavily on their barbels to feel for movement in the water. Depending on the movement intensity, they can decide whether what’s coming at them is smaller than their body size.

Reproduction and Life Cycle

A Brown Bullhead fish can live for up to 7 years and grow through different stages before reaching full maturity. 

Spawning is the process through which fishes reproduce. In summary, the fishes expel mature gonads from their bodies into specific and conducive parts of the surrounding waters, resulting in reproduction. 

Before these catfish spawn, the parents build a formidable nest in a dark, protected water area. This strategy ensures that their fertilized eggs are safe from the water’s harshness, including predators and extreme weather conditions. 

Then, the female lays her eggs in the nest, and both parents guard the eggs while they hatch into fingerlings. Usually, spawning in Brown Bullheads only occurs from April to June every year when the water temperature exceeds 65°F.

Fishing for Brown Bullhead Catfish

Finding and Catching Brown Bullheads

They are relatively predictable and easy to locate. Look for slow-moving water with vegetation. The best time to fish is in the evening when the bullheads are most active. Brown Bullheads will eat anything that fits comfortably into their mouths, including vegetation, corn, and smaller aquatic animals. 


The most successful lures tend to be slow bottom presentations, including weighted night crawlers, chicken livers, minnows, jigs, and cut bait at night. They will sometimes strike at spinnerbaits and crankbaits too.

Using worms or corn as bait has proven to be the most effective. If you use worms, you should use ones gathered off a compost pile. These worms have a more pungent smell and will get more attention since Bullhead Catfish do not see a lot with their eyes. Also, try to get the fishing line as close to the bottom as possible.


  • Many agencies do not have a creel limit for Bullheads or Grass Carps.
  • Catching Brown Bullhead in the evenings is easier when they look for food in cooler water temperatures. 
  • A Brown Bullhead can inject poison into its prey from the barbs in its fins. It turns out that those barbs hurt and are weapons of protection for the fish you should avoid coming in contact with.
  • One easy way to soothe the pain from a Brown Bullhead’s powerful bite is to rub some slimes from the belly on the bite’s place. Although this doesn’t promise instant relief, it can shorten the time you would have dealt with the pain from the bite.

Florida State Record

The brown bullhead fish state record in Florida weighed 7.02 pounds.