The channel catfish was established as the official Missouri state fish in 1997. It is one of the most sought-after fish in Missouri. Kansas, Iowa, Nebraska, and Tennessee have also declared the channel catfish their official state fish.
The channel catfish is one of Missouri's most highly prized game and food fishes. As a sport fish, it has no rival in the larger prairie streams of northwest Missouri, where other game fish are scarce. It figures prominently in the creel in streams and reservoirs elsewhere in Missouri and is widely stocked in farm ponds.
Catfish farming, the commercial propagation of channel catfish for sale as live or dressed fish, is an important industry in Missouri.
Channel catfish may be caught on set lines, by jugging, or by still-fishing with rod and reel. A variety of live, cut, or prepared baits, including fish, crayfish, worms, grasshoppers, liver, shrimp, chicken and chicken entrails, blood, cheese, stinkbait, and commercial concoctions, are used to catch this fish. Occasionally it is taken on spinners, small spoons, and other artificial lures retrieved slowly near the bottom. Fishing is best near dusk and in the early part of the night, or on a rise following a heavy rain.