In 1997, Gov. Ben Nelson declared the channel catfish (Ictalurus punctatus) to be the state fish. The channel catfish is a popular sport fish that is often used for food. It has distinctive barbels or “whiskers” that are covered with taste buds. Its diet consists of aquatic insects, crayfish, fish, frogs and plant material. Channel catfish spawn during summer in cavities created by tree roots or rocks and often defend their nests.