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Catfish as Bait

The overpopulation of Brown Bullheads (catfish) in our river systems, has made fishing increasingly difficult, and frustrating, for those in the traditional fisheries (eel, shad, gaspereau).  When the fishing gear is pulled, it is, more often than not, filled with these catfish instead of the eels, shad, or gaspereau they are actually fishing for. The overabundance of catfish has reached the point of causing financial hardship to our river fishermen and poses a threat to the continuance of the traditional fisheries.

Since 2014, Fundy North has been trying to find a solution to the catfish problem.  We first conducted scientific studies with UNB’s River’s Institute on the stock status of brown bullheads.  Resulting from that work, we received approval from DFO for a “bycatch allowance” of catfish in the eel fishery.  Unfortunately, we have been unable to secure a market for these fish, though we are still working on it.  In the fall of 2016, we sent 25 catfish samples from 6 different areas of the Saint John River System to RPC lab in Fredericton, NB, for testing to determine the mineral/toxin levels of these fish as well as any protein/nutrient values.

Once this analysis was completed, it was forwarded to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to validate the nutrient content claims. We received a very favourable report confirming that the Brown Bullhead (Catfish) met the criteria for the following nutrient claims:


1. Excellent source of protein

2. Low in saturated fatty acids

3. Free of trans fatty acids

4. Source of omega-3 poly-unsaturated fatty acids

5. Low in sodium

6. Extra lean

7. Source of potassium

8. Source of magnesium

9. Good source of selenium

Toxin levels were also well within CFIA guidelines.

We are still investigating potential catfish marketing options.  In addition to human consumption, catfish make very good low cost lobster bait, especially if block frozen and cut into bricks on a bandsaw.  If you are interested in marketing catfish, or have any other marketing ideas, please contact Fundy North at (506) 529-4165 or email (

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