The Mississippi White

Ever since we've been getting bluecat in Oklahoma, around the Navigational Channel people tell of a fish there called the "Mississippi White" catfish. They have big ole heads and a hump back and they're chalk white. They were supposed to have come here from Mississippi but if you talk to anyone along the Mississippi river and you mention something called a mississippi white, they won't know what you're talking about. This is almost a name exclusively used around the Nav channel east of Tulsa but it's spread to other regions and people even now think they're a different species than the bluecat. Well, it's just not so.

Bluecat's pigment will be different colors and if they're in clear water and exposed to sunlight all the time they'll be dark. If they're in deep muddy water they'll be white and usually in colder muddy waters they'll be almost chalk white. They're the same species and the ones with the round heads with the hump backs are just male bluecat. the ones that don't have the rounded heads are females and they're easily distinguishable just by looking at their heads. I'll include a picture to show the differences. The two on the bottom and bottom left with the arrows were caught the same day in the same muddy waters and that's why they appear to be a lot lighter colored than the others that were caught in more clear waters in Keystone lake ... the two white ones were caught out of the cimarron when we were getting some good rains to keep the mud churned up and they were caught out of a pretty deep hole.

If you'll look and compare these fish you'll see the head shape is different and that's how you tell females from males without cutting them open. The males head will be rounded from the mouth to the gill plate where the female's will be almost straight and the females also won't have the humped backs ... the males head and back also gets a lot more muscular when their around spawning time in late May.

The most important identification in catfish species is the number of rays in the anal fin and bluecat and mississippi white's anal fins are the same number of rays because they're the same species of fish. You'll also never find a scientific name for a mississippi white either as it will be the same scientific name as the bluecat. Blue Catfish (Ictalurus furcatus) is the scientific name for bluecats and there is none for the Mississippi White.