Thursday, August 4, 2011

Bully! #27 Yellow Bullhead

It was Friday night and the urge to catch a quest fish overwhelmed all else.  Looking at the diminishing list of fish left to catch, the yellow bullhead popped out as likely success story on this full moon evening.

Yellow bullhead are well known night feeders and one of two bullhead species in the state (the other is Brown).  We jumped on the internet and began searching for the right habitat; weedy warm-water lake that had a place to fish from shore. A bridge that crossed Pow Wow Pond in Kingston fit that bill.  Some quick digging in the compost heap got us a bag full of worms and we were off.

Bridges are nice places to fish because the fish usually travel back and forth underneath and access can be really easy. This spot is just about perfect for night bullhead fishing because it has a boat launch nearby and a street light overhead.

A simple rig consisting of a #6 hook and split shot weight was all that was needed. The hook was threaded with 4 earthworms, creating an irresistible ball of squirming goodness.

While we waited we befriended a spider that lived in the guard rail. She was spinning her web to catch one of the many flying insects that were attracted to the street light .


After about 20 minutes we got the telltale tapping on the line. As the lined tightened, the hook set firmly into fish. The wiggling fight suggested bullhead right away, but yellow or brown?  The four pound line demanded a somewhat cautious fight, but soon the 1/2 pound bullhead was being hoisted up through the night air.  The yellow sides and more importantly the yellow chin whiskers indicated that another fish was added to the quest.
He fit into a small cooler, but was he a yellow or brown bullhead

As soon as we saw the yellow whiskers, we knew we had fish number  27!
In most places the term bullhead is used for these fish, but in the Northeast they are called hornpout, presumably from their resemblance to the ocean pout.
Happy to have a hornpout
The eyes of a bullhead are really small because they do not need them. They rely on a terrific sense of smell and taste. All over the body or a bullhead are taste buds, so anything they touch, they taste.

This fish had some small lesions  on its skin. 

All of the catfish in New Hampshire have eight highly sensitive feelers: two above the mouth, two along the sides, and four on the chin.
The last thing a worm sees
Once the bullhead has been killed with a sharp knife to the brain it is time to clean it.  Catfish do not have scales and only tough skin that needs to be pulled off of the fish.  The best way to do this is to get a board and drive a large nail through it's head.  Next to big rivers in the Midwest you can see big catfish cleaning trees with many large mummified heads nailed to the trunk.

The catfish is not going anywhere.

Once the skin is sliced from the head, a pair of pliers is used to grip the skin and pull it off of the fish. 
A pretty easy process that keeps nearly all the meat intact. 

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