Channel catfish (Ictalurus punctatus) is indigenous to Illinois. A catfish has no scales, but has a spotted skin. It is recognized by its eight barbels or whiskers. Size varies from two to twenty pounds, with specimens up to sixty pounds. They thrive as bottom feeders in clear, fast-flowing water with sand or gravel bottoms. Therefore, pollution has caused a decline in the catfish population.
Channel catfish was one of the top commercial fish along the Illinois River. Fishermen used basket traps, jugs, or trotlines to catch them. Illinois fishermen have said that winter fishing is more productive than summer fishing. Catfish also hit the traps well during spawning season, when fishermen bait the traps with females.