When you are in a survival situation, keeping enough food on hand is going to be difficult, no matter how much you have stockpiled. And that assumes you even have access to your stockpile!
No matter what you are going through, your body will need a ton of fuel to keep doing the work that you need to do in order to survive.
In order to meet these calorie demands, you might have to start eating food that is unfamiliar, unappetizing, or just unusual.
Like every other time, one of the single best sources of nutrition comes in the form of animal protein, and in this regard there is plenty to be had out in nature no matter where you are as long as you know where to get it.
How about channel catfish? Can you eat channel catfish to survive?
Yes, you can eat channel catfish. They are extremely common, pretty easy to catch, highly nutritious, and usually tasty, making them a great source of food in any survival situation.
Whether you normally like fish or not, catfish tend to be fairly divisive. Catfish is very much a love it or hate it sort of dish.
However, beggars can’t be choosers when you are desperate for calories, and you should be thankful if you manage to land some channel catfish when trying to survive in the wild or just trying to supplement your food stores during a bug-in situation.
Keep reading, and we will tell you all about making use of channel catfish during survival scenarios.
Where Are Channel Catfish Found?
Channel catfish are found throughout nearly the entirety of North America, including most of Canada and the entirety of the northern, eastern, southern, and central United States (except the very southern tip of Florida).
Interestingly, they have also been introduced into certain parts of Europe and Asia where they are thriving.
Channel catfish, or channel cats as they are more commonly known, do wonderfully in muddy, murky lakes, streams, rivers and reservoirs where they nest in secluded, out of the way places like holes, hollows, cracks and crevices.
These catfish are extremely popular as food, and are the most fished catfish species in the world.
If you are in their range and around their typical habitat, you can be all but certain of finding them and catching them if you know what to do and have the right equipment.
Channel Catfish Nutritional Info
Channel catfish is highly nutritious, and has both well-rounded at macro- and micronutrient profiles.
Surprisingly, compared to other fish, channel catfish tends to be very low and fat but is naturally quite high in protein as you’d expect.
Considering the vitamin and mineral profile, channel catfish meat contains tons of vitamin D and vitamin B12 along with most of the other B vitamins including vitamins B1, B3, and B6 with somewhat lesser amounts of B2 and B5. It also contains a little folate and vitamin A.
The mineral profile is not quite as good as the vitamin profile, but still quite respectable, with a good amount of phosphorus, selenium, and potassium with lesser amounts of magnesium, zinc, iron, copper, and calcium.
This solid nutritional profile will provide your body with plenty of fuel in the form of calories, both in the short and long term, and all of the other nutrients you need to survive and thrive.
It’s easy to skip worrying over vitamins and minerals in short-term survival scenarios when you are focused only on calories to fuel a hard-working body…
But, in any long-term survival situation, nutrient deficiencies can quickly start to snowball and lead to complications that can incapacitate you.
In this regard, catching some channel catfish might be one of your best possible options!
Does Channel Catfish Taste Good?
Yes! Or at least, I think so, and most of the people I know think so too…
Like I said above, channel catfish, like all catfish, is pretty divisive when it comes to eating but there is no denying that when prepared properly it is definitely wholesome and a whole lot tastier than a lot of other naturally sourced foods you might wind up eating in a survival situation.
If you are fortunate enough to have access to just a few simple ingredients your catfish will definitely taste delicious and make for a wonderful meal, crisis or not!
Is it Safe to Eat Raw Channel Catfish?
No. I know this is bound to ruffle the feathers of sushi lovers that are reading this, but you really shouldn’t be eating raw fish, and you definitely shouldn’t be eating raw fish that are wild-caught and wild-caught catfish in particular.
This is because raw catfish, like all raw meat, can host all sorts of nasty germs and parasites that can infect you, making you terribly sick and potentially even kill you.
If you’re lucky, this will just be common food poisoning caused by salmonella or some other bug.
That’s bad enough under the circumstances and can easily wind up incapacitating you from dehydration which might mean death in the end.
But if you are unlucky, you might get infected with some kind of parasitic worm. These can lead to chronic and severe health problems, and certain species can even damage your central nervous system.
This, obviously, is a horrific fate and something you can ill afford when you are already in dire straits.
Luckily, the solution is to always cook your catfish well done. Proper and prolonged cooking will kill all of these nasty germs and parasites that might be lurking in the flesh of the catfish, making it safe to eat.
You should never, ever eat raw catfish unless you’re absolutely desperate for calories and have no way to cook it.
Is the Skin of Channel Catfish Okay to Eat?
You can, but the skin is not particularly palatable. Catfish don’t really have scales, but their rubbery skin does not become tastier after cooking. My recommendation is to skin the catfish during cleaning prior to cooking.
Once again, if you’re truly desperate for calories the skin is edible but you probably aren’t going to enjoy it.
Can You Safely Eat Channel Catfish Eggs?
Yes, but you’re going to have a very hard time finding those eggs since they lay them in a secluded, out of the way, and difficult to reach places beneath the water’s surface.
Holes, caves, cracks, crevices, and large debris all serve as hiding and nesting places for catfish, and that is where you’ll find their eggs.
You’re better off concentrating your efforts on catching the fish themselves than searching for their eggs.
How About Channel Catfish Bones?
You really shouldn’t eat the bones of a catfish. People aren’t really designed to eat bones, and the likelihood that you will choke or perhaps suffer internal injuries from bones is reasonably high.
It is true that you can eat the smallest of their bones without much worry, but I wouldn’t make a practice of it. Should you accidentally swallow a small bone, you should be okay.
However, it is impossible to get extra nutrition from the bones if you know your tricks. The first trick is simply to split or snap the bones and then scrape out what little marrow is inside.
Bone marrow is extremely nutritious, and can be gently cooked before being eaten as is or added to another dish.
Ultimately, you can gently simmer or boil the bones in order to leach the nutrients from the marrow. This can serve as the basis of a fortifying broth for soup or for a stew.
If fish are plentiful and you are having good success while fishing you can skip this step but if you are desperate for every last calorie and especially for extra vitamins and nutrients bone marrow is where it’s at in a survival situation!
Can You Safely Eat Channel Catfish Organs?
Yes, though the thought of eating fish organs fills most people with dread and disgust.
But you should know that fish organs have been and still are consumed around the world in various dishes voluntarily. It’s all about what you’re used to!
When it comes to channel catfish organ meat, the heart and the liver are your best, and tastiest, bets.
If you’re feeling adventurous, you can eat the intestines although these require careful and diligent expressing and cleaning prior to cooking or you are going to be in for a truly hideous time.
As always, the extra careful when eating organ meat and pay close attention to the quality of the fish overall as well as the appearance, odor, and color of the organs.
Any strange-looking wounds, odors, colors, or blotches could indicate a sick fish and organs that are entirely unsafe to eat even when cooked. If you have any doubts whatsoever, throw the fish out!
Caution: Channel Catfish Have Spines on their Pectoral and Dorsal Fins!
Lastly, channel catfish should be handled with care, especially the larger specimens and very especially while they are still alive.
The pectoral and dorsal fins conceal sharp spines that can easily puncture your hand or forearm.
Note: these are not the barbels or “whiskers” on the catfish’s face. Those don’t sting.
A puncture wound from the spine of a channel catfish will easily become infected and, you guessed it, this can lead to life-threatening complications when you’re already in the middle of a survival situation.
If you catch a channel catfish that is good for eating, pull it from the water and remove it from the hook carefully, then dispatch it quickly so you don’t get jabbed.
Tom Marlowe practically grew up with a gun in his hand, and has held all kinds of jobs in the gun industry: range safety, sales, instruction and consulting, Tom has the experience to help civilian shooters figure out what will work best for them.