Missouri designated the channel catfish as the official state fish in 1997. The catfish is so-named for its cat-like whiskers, which are used to assist in the hunt for food. The most numerous catfish species in North America, with an average size between 2 and 4 pounds, the channel catfish can grow to 50 pounds or more (the world record was a channel catfish caught in South Carolina weighing 58 pounds).
The channel catfish (Ictalurus punctatus) can be found in rivers, reservoirs, natural lakes, and ponds throughout the United States. Omnivores with a very keen sense of smell and taste, a channel catfish actually has taste buds distributed over the entire surface of its body, especially concentrated on the 4 pairs of barbels (whiskers) surrounding the mouth. These sharp senses allow the channel catfish to find food in dark or muddy water.