Fish Identification Guide

Flathead Catfish
Pylodictis olivaris
Illustrations by Joe Tomelleri
Description: A scaleless fish having a broad flat head with a projecting lower jaw, an adipose fin, 8 barbels that are used to locate food, and a tail fin with a squarish margin. Pale yellow to light brown colored, often mottled with dark brown or black if from clear water. Many anglers are mistaken by thinking they can be stung by the whiskers (barbels). What they have to be aware of are the hard spines (one in the dorsal fin and one in each pectoral fin) that can inflict a puncture wound. Primarily a nocturnal predator, feeding at or near the bottom - rarely eats dead or decaying matter. Smaller flatheads mostly eat aquatic insects while larger flatheads primarily consume fish and crayfish.
Family: Catfish
Type: Sport Fish
Range: Eastern and southwestern Nebraska.

Source: Nebraska Game and Parks Commission website at