Because they can steal your bait, saltwater catfish can be a hassle to deal with. The majority of saltwater catfish reach maturity at 9-12 pounds. This is not the same size as freshwater catfish. There are many types of saltwater catfish, but there are only two main Florida species: hardhead and gafftop.
What Are Saltwater Catfish?
Are there saltwater catfish? Only a few catfish species can live in saltwater. Two of the most common saltwater catfish along Florida’s coast waters are the hardheads and the sail catfish. You can find them in both the Atlantic as well as the Gulf of Mexico.
They are quite small, so if you’re curious about how large saltwater catfish can grow, it is not surprising that they remain tiny. Hardhead catfish can grow up to 28-30 inches in length and 12 pounds. Anything more than that would be considered a trophy fish. The average Florida catfish is between two and three pounds. When fully mature, the Sail Catfish (or gafftop catfish) is approximately nine pounds. Most Florida catfish that you catch will be less than three pounds. Anglers consider both species to be pest fish because they can steal your bait.
Gafftop and hardhead fishing is easy. Saltwater catfish can be found in shallow water during summer, as well as in deeper waters in winter on the Gulf Coast and Gulf of Mexico. The hardhead catfish is a saltwater fish. However, the sail catfish will sometimes invade brackish bays and estuaries.
Anglers who are looking to catch snook, redfish or spotted trout will need to fight the hardhead catfish and sailcat catfish. They will attempt to steal your bait. While this may seem like a negative for most anglers, there is a benefit. Cut bait made from ocean catfish is amazing. Use them as bait if you feel the need to constantly re-bait or unhook Florida catfish from your line.
Is It Possible to Eat Saltwater Catfish?
Although they are edible, some people don’t like the taste. You can eat them, and they will have the same taste and texture as freshwater catfish. Saltwater catfish are often not eaten by people who catch them. They simply throw them away. They are small and bony. Their dorsal spins can cause serious health problems. But they are delicious to eat.
Cook them properly and you will get a flaky, firm fish with a lovely catfish flavor. They don’t taste bad or gamey. These fish are slimy so you will need to do some work cleaning them. They are very slippery and have a thick slime coating that protects them from saltwater. You run the risk of being “stung” by their pectoral and dorsal radiations. This can lead to a toxic reaction.
Saltwater Cat Fishing Tips
- What bait is best? You should always use something that smells good for catfish. The best bait to use is oily cut bait.
- How do you catch saltwater catfish safely? Three spines can cause a toxin in saltwater catfish. These are the dorsal ray’s first and second thickest spines. You can safely catch catfish by bringing them to the boat with a net or to shore. They will not flounder around as much, which can lead you to getting stung easily.
- What are the best techniques for fishing catfish? Cut bait and hook are good options for targeting catfish in shallow waters and near structures. The catfish can be chumbed in similar situations, and you can then use a hook or bait to target them. The catfish will congregate in one place when you chum them. This is where your hook can be used to target them.
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If you are an experienced angler or just looking to catch your first fish, come experience the amazing fishing that only Florida can offer. With Salty Knots Fishing Charters, we will make your fishing experience a one of a kind unforgettable adventure. Call us today!