The bullhead: An angler’s most popular ‘ugly’ fish

Trout receive the bulk of the angling media's attention in April, and rightfully so, but another less “glamourous” species gets far more attention from many anglers in the springtime than the outdoor press gives it credit for. That species is the bullhead.

It's said that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and while the trout family, and especially the brook and rainbow trout, are the fashion models of the fish family, the bullhead is the ugly sister. It's neither colorful nor pretty. It's a fathead with whisker-like barbels protruding from its wide lips. Top this off with its beady eyes and a trio of sharp barbed fins that can easily draw blood when carelessly handled, and you'd surmise most anglers would leave well enough alone. On the contrary, bullheads have a far larger fan club than you'd suspect for such an unglamorous looking fish.

Bullheads usually become active shortly after ice-out, and the months of April and May are prime times to catch a batch from almost any still or slow-moving water that has a muddy or silt bottom. Just about every pond, lake and slow-moving portions or bays of our rivers contain bullheads. The beauty is that they can be caught by shore anglers just as easily as by boat anglers. Fishing gear need not be expensive or fancy, with everything from a long cane pole to a basic casting outfit sufficing. No lures or flies needed either – just a hook, sinker and night crawler for the offering.

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