Are Blue Catfish Good to Eat?

Blue catfish are prevalent throughout the central and eastern United States.  Of all the different catfish species in North America, blue catfish are the largest, but are they good to eat?

Yes, blue catfish are great for eating!  They make a healthy, delicious, and easy-to-prepare meal that most anglers are happy to indulge in.     

Do Blue Catfish Taste Good?

Most anglers consider blue cats to be better tasting than channel catfish.  This is because of the predatory nature of adult blues. 

They spend less time bottom feeding than channel cats, so they don’t acquire the “muddy” taste for which channel catfish are known.

They have a mildly sweet taste that is comparable to striped bass.  Blue catfish meat is firm and white, like other catfish species, with a flakey texture when cooked.

What Size Blue Catfish Taste The Best?

Are Blue Catfish Good to Eat?

Every angler has their own opinion on what size of blue catfish tastes the best, and it really depends on their diet.  The current blue catfish world record is a whopping 143 lbs, but this is much too large to eat.

A catfish of that size is very old, which means the meat will have had more than enough time to accumulate enough toxins to make it taste awful. 

The consensus for the best tasting blue catfish is 2-5 lbs which will be about 18-24 inches long.  This size is slightly larger than channel catfish because, as adults, blue cats eat more live bait and spend less time eating dead organisms off the bottom.

Health Benefits Of Eating Blue Catfish

Blue catfish is a healthy option, especially for those who require a diet high in protein and low in carbohydrates and fat.  Some of the health benefits of eating blue catfish meat include:

  • High in protein
  • Low carb
  • Low fat
  • Good source of Omega-3 fatty acids
  • Low sodium
  • Packed with essential vitamins and minerals

Now that we know how great blue catfish tastes and some of the health benefits, it’s not hard to see why this fish is such a popular culinary ingredient!

Nutritional Profile Of Blue Catfish

Amount Per 3oz ServingDaily Recommended Value
Total Fat2.42 g78 g
Saturated Fat0.63 g20 g
Unsaturated Fat1.48 g58 g
Omega-3s (EPA, DHA, ALA)210 mg
Protein15.7 g50 g
Sodium42.5 mg2,300 mg
VitaminAmount Per 3oz Serving%  Of Daily Recommended Value
A50 IU2%
B1 (Thiamin)0.193 mg13%
B2 (Riboflavin)0.061 mg4%
B3 (Niacin)2.02 mg10%
B5 (Pantothenic Acid)0.773 mg8%
B60.1 mg6%
B122.2 ug91%
D429 IU72%
Mineral/ElectrolyteAmount Per 3oz Serving%  Of Daily Recommended Value
Magnesium23.8 mg6%
Phosphorus258 mg26%
Potassium356 mg10%
Selenium12.2 ug17%

Cleaning Blue Catfish In 6 Easy Steps

The best and easiest way to clean blue catfish is by filleting them.  Some anglers choose to harvest the meat from the head as well, which tastes just as good as the fillets.

In order to successfully filet a catfish:

  1. Cut from the front side of the dorsal fin to the front of the pelvic fin.  Cutting at this angle will help you avoid puncturing any internal organs that may spoil the meat.
  2. Cut until you hit the backbone, then turn your blade toward the tail.  You will have to apply more pressure to get through the rib cage.
  3. Stop cutting about one inch from the tail.  This will allow you to flip the fillet over while it is still attached to the tail, making it easier to separate the meat from the skin.
  4. Separating the skin from the meat is easier when using a knife that isn’t as sharp as your paring knife.  This will prevent you from accidentally cutting through the skin.
  5. Cut out the remnants of the rib cage and any yellow fatty tissue.
  6. Flip the fish over and repeat the process.

Now it’s time to enjoy your harvest!

Are Blue Catfish Good to Eat?

Best Ways To Cook Blue Catfish

Baked Blue Catfish And Herbs

This is one of the healthiest options when it comes to cooking blue catfish, and your finished product will have less fat and cholesterol than frying it.

Blue catfish pairs well with lemon, basil, salt, and pepper.  Try a dry rub with your favorite seasonings and herbs for a truly delectable treat.

Pan Fried Blue Catfish

This is by far the most popular way to cook blue catfish.  You can fry the meat in a pan, deep fryer, or air fryer; they all work great and result in a delicious final product.  

Whether you batter and deep fry the meat or go for a healthier method using extra virgin olive oil in a pan, you will surely be satisfied with how delicious this freshwater delicacy is.

Blue Catfish Chili

Blue catfish chili is a northern take on the cajun favorites of gumbo and jambalaya.  Add chunks of fried or baked catfish meat to this easily prepared and hearty meal.

Add your favorite spices, beans, and rice into a crockpot for a dish that will keep you warm in the winter and satiated in the summer.

Why Don’t Some Anglers Eat Blue Catfish?

Most anglers are happy to indulge in freshly caught blue catfish, but some choose not to eat this freshwater delicacy because they are considered an invasive species in some states.

Invasive Species

Blue catfish were introduced to fisheries in Virginia during the 1970s, and since then, they have spread throughout the northeastern US like a wildfire. 

They are considered invasive in Massachusetts, particularly in the Chesapeake Bay area. 

Some people equate the term invasive with inedible, though this isn’t an accurate assumption.  It is a cultural reason not to eat the fish, but Chesapeake Bay blue cats are just as delicious as blue catfish caught in other areas of the country.

Final Thoughts

It’s not hard to see why blue catfish is one of the most popular freshwater fish to eat in the United States.  Blue catfish’s range is extensive, they are easy to catch, and they make a healthy and delicious meal.

You can find frozen wild-caught blue catfish fillets in most grocery stores, but to fully experience the best tasting and healthiest option, you should go out and catch some yourself!

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