We investigated the spatial variation of flathead catfish (Pylodictis olivaris) relative abundance and growth in the 274 km long Kansas River to determine if population dynamics of catfish are related to urbanization. Electrofishing was conducted at 462 random sites throughout the river in summer, 2005-2006 to collect fish. Relative abundance of age 1 fish (???200mm), subadult (>200-400mm) and adult fish (>400 mm) ranged from 0.34 to 14.67 fish h-1, mean length at age 1 was 165 (range: 128-195) mm total length (TL) and mean length at age 3 was 376 mm TL (range: 293-419mm TL). The proportion of land use within 200 m of the river edge was between 0 and 0.54 urban. River reaches with high relative abundance of age 1 flathead catfish had high relative abundance of subadult and adult catfish. River reaches with fast flathead catfish growth to age 1 had fast growth to age 3. High urban land use and riprap in the riparian area were evident in river reaches near the heavily populated Kansas City and Topeka, Kansas, USA. Reaches with increased number of log jams and islands had decreased riparian agriculture. Areas of low urbanization had faster flathead catfish growth (r = 0.67, p = 0.005). Relative abundance of flathead catfish was higher in more agricultural areas (r = -0.57, p = 0.02). Changes in land use in riverine environments may alter population dynamics of a fish species within a river. Spatial differences in population dynamics need to be considered when evaluating riverine fish populations. Published in 2008 by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.