LOOK: Tennessee Angler Hooks Highly Unusual-Looking Piebald Catfish

by Lauren Boisvert

A few miles downstream from Chattanooga, Tennessee, fisherman Daimon Drymon caught an interesting-looking catfish. While fishing on the Tennessee River on August 19, Drymon hooked a blue catfish with curious white patches all over its body. This is called piebald, and it happens when an animal has unpigmented areas over a usually pigmented surface of feathers, hair, or scales.

“When it came up and I actually seen [sic] the color configuration of it, I was really amazed and amused by it,” Drymon told Field and Stream. “I was like pretty much like, ‘Oh my God. I just caught a cow catfish.’”

The catfish’s scales were mostly unpigmented, meaning the majority of the fish was white. It had dark grey splotches along its back, though, and hints of pink in its fins. Although it was mostly white, it wasn’t an albino, as those fish usually have pink eyes. Instead, piebald animals usually have some type of leucism, which is a condition that causes partial pigmentation loss. In comparison, albinism causes complete pigmentation loss.

According to Field and Stream, the Tennessee River is used to having weird catfish. Anglers in April and June of this year caught an albino and a piebald catfish respectively in different areas of the Tennessee River. The albino was caught near downtown Chattanooga, the piebald farther out on the river on a charter boat. Additionally, in September 2021, another angler caught a piebald blue catfish near Chickamauga Dam, also part of the Tennessee River.

Angler Catches Unique Piebald Catfish On the Tennessee River

For Drymon, he’d never even heard of this condition before he caught his catfish. “I actually knew nothing about this until I reeled it up,” he told Field and Stream. “I didn’t know there was such a thing as a piebald catfish. After I caught it, I paddled over to a dock where a couple of fishermen were hanging out. One of them is a charter captain who has been fishing all up and down the Tennessee River for years, and he’s never seen one like this. He was pretty amazed by it too.”

Drymon didn’t measure or weigh his catch but did estimate that it may have weighed around 15 pounds. He took photos of his amazing find, then released it back into the river. “Whenever I catch really nice catfish, I always want to get them back into the water as soon as possible,” he said, “so other people can catch them.”

A good choice for something like this, so more people can experience the wonders of the piebald catfish. Who knows, maybe it will breed and create more genetically unique blue catfish. Whatever happens, it seems like Drymon got a once-in-a-lifetime catch.