Common Names - spotted cat, blue channel cat, river catfish Description - Channel catfish closely resemble blue catfish. Both have deeply forked tails. However, channels have a rounded anal fin with 24-29 rays and scattered black spots along their back and sides. They have a small, narrow head. The back is blue-gray with light blue to silvery-gray sides and a white belly. Larger channels lose the black spots and also take on a blue-black coloration on the back which shades to white on the belly. Males also become very dark during spawning season and develop a thickened pad on their head. Subspecies - There are no recognized subspecies. However, on rare occasions, they hybridize with blue and flathead catfish. Aquaculturists recognize numerous hatchery stocks and create a variety of hybrids to improve their culture characteristics. Range - Found throughout the state, except in the Florida Keys. Habitat - Most common in big rivers and streams. Prefers some current, and deep water with sand, gravel or rubble bottoms. Channel catfish also inhabit lakes, reservoirs and ponds. They adapt well in standing water where stocked. Eating Quality - Considered one of the best-eating freshwater fish. The meat is white, tender and sweet when taken from clean water. Florida aquaculturists and commercial anglers provide these fish to markets and seafood restaurants throughout the state.