Working With Mother Nature And The Bullhead Catfish.

A picture of our creek flooding that happened a few weeks back.

Here at Milligan’s Gander Hill Farm we have learned the hard way to try and work with mother nature instead trying to work against her. Take for instance our pond. We have tried to have our pond be clear and full of bass, crappie, blue gill, and channel cat fish, but that hasn’t worked out. Mother nature thinks we should have a Bullhead catfish pond, so thats what we are going to go along with because just like with my wife, mother nature usually gets her way anyway no matter how hard you try otherwise.

Another look at our flooding.

With the flooding that brings in the Bullheads to our pond and the river otters eating our other game fish, we come the the conclusion its a waste of time and money trying to keep our pond stocked with the other game fish.

Our neighbors house and driveway.

After careful thought I think our pond is better suited for the catfish. It is only about 8ft deep at its deepest and the bullhead can live with less oxygen when the pond freezes in the winter. They also breed easily in a farm pond and you can always catch bullheads anytime of day or night.  Even though the bullhead doesn’t have a very good reputation with most game fisherman they are very good to eat especially in the spring and fall when water temperatures are cooler.

The species of Bullhead we have is the yellow Bullhead catfish.  Most pond owners don’t want the bullhead to get into their pond because they breed very fast and can quickly take over a pond. Also with the bottom feeding habit of this fish it keeps the mud on a pond stirred up which causes water clarity issues.

Bullheads eat just about anything, insects, tad poles, vegetation, snails, minnows, dead fish, marshmallows, pieces of hot dogs, worms, chicken livers, shrimp and catfish stink baits. We use night crawlers to catch ours. Right now there are so many bullheads in our pond, you can cast out a line and catch one in just a few minutes so it’s a very good fish to introduce fishing to new comers to the sport. The only trouble is there are so many fish that they have eaten up most of the natural food in the pond and are not very big because of it. Our solution is to start feeding the bullheads with a commercial floating game fish food that some catfish farmers use.


We are using Purina Game fish Chow but I have herd others using dog food with great success.

We have also just stocked our pond with 5 pounds of fathead minnows. The bullheads and other game fish will eat these too.

The fathead minnow is a prolific breeder and will start breeding once the water temperature reaches 64 degrees F and will keep breeding until water temperatures drop below 64 degrees come fall.

Like most things here on our farm we don’t have any experience with this and are learning as we go. I would like to hear from others who have had similar experiences with their farm pond. If any body would like to catch a mess of catfish, come on down, ya hear!




About Gordon Milligan

I am a retired conductor for a commuter railroad in Chicago IL, I now live in and have bought a 40 acre farm in South Central Iowa that I have built from the ground up. My wife and I are trying to raise and grow most of my own food using sustainible and organic methods. I have a blog that journals my journey to becoming a farmer.
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9 Responses to Working With Mother Nature And The Bullhead Catfish.

  1. It sounds like you’ve made a wise decision! Glad you can enjoy the catfish!

  2. I grew up catching bullheads on my grandparents farm. Always enjoyed eating them too!

  3. Rick Umphryes says:

    When I was raised up in central Lllinois I love to catch and set bull heads. We finally go the addition done and now we are moving around cabinets to get a dishwasher in. Also where the window was the dry wall is being fixed. Enjoy your pond.

  4. Thanks Rick, glad to hear your project is almost done. I need to do another post myself on the stuff we got done lately.

  5. steve says:

    Hi Gordon. I’ve only just gotten to reading this post. As someone who knows absolutely nothing about Fish, I found it really interesting. Pond ? your place really does have it all. I see you haven’t posted for a while, so hope you’re well ? Steve

  6. Bob stewart says:

    Could you e-mail me to discuss
    your ongoing Bullhead catfish
    raising? I have been experimenting with same for a number of years

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