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Brown Bull-Nosed Catfish

Cat 700

Amelius nebulosus


Catfish are an introduced pest here in New Zealand.  Originally from North America, the brown, bullheaded catfish, is confined to Lake Taupo where it was introduced as a game fish.  It now competes with trout for food and is considered a pest.

The catfish is a "stout fish with a thick body and ventrally flattened head. The back is moderately arched and there is a distinct hump behind the head. Four pairs of barbels are present around the mouth, with a single long one at each corner of the mouth, a pair in front of the eyes on the snout, and two pairs beneath the chin. The skin is thick and leathery with a layer of mucous. Scales are absent. Colouration is a dark brown to greenish olive on the back, with slightly paler sides. The underside of the head and lower jaw are a buttery yellow colour, which pales to a creamy white or pale grey on the belly". (McDowall 1990)

MoF Regulations:

Catfish are a pest so kill 'em all


Only found in Lake Taupo, the catfish lives primarily on the native freshwater crayfish as well as snails, small insects etc.


Catfish are generally pretty easy prey and will not be hard to spear once you've found them.  They're concentrated around the south western side of Lake Taupo and if you're keen to have a go at them swimming off the shore anywhere between Turangi and Motutere should produce the goods.

The annual Catfish Cull held out of Motuoapa has become one of the most popular events on the spearfishing calendar and is definitely worth a look.

Winners 700



Article: Culling Catfish