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Home > Biological Info > Gafftopsail Catfish

Biological Info: Gafftopsail Catfish

Gafftopsail Catfish

Scientific Name:
Bagre marinus
Common Names:
Sail Cat, Sea Cat, Gafftop, Slime Cat
Range & Habitat:
Gulfwide in shallow and moderate depth nearshore waters, and in marine and brackish estuaries. It often penetrates fresh water during the warmer months. During the winter months they move from estuarine to warm marine waters.
Identification & Biology:
This fish is silvery-gray above and white below. No scales are found on the skin. Two barbels are located under the chin, unlike the four found on hardhead catfish, and two more very long barbels are at the corners of the mouth. The dorsal and pectoral fins have long filaments on them. It has hard, sharp, venomous spines in its dorsal and pectoral fins and should be handled with care. Gafftopsail catfish not only feed on the bottom, but throughout the water column, even at the surface, where they predaceously pursue small schooling fishes.

They eat a wide variety of foods, especially blue crabs. Spawning seems to take place in May, with the male holding up to 55 eggs in his mouth until they hatch, and then holding the young fish for several weeks thereafter. Gafftopsail catfish are covered with copious amounts of mucous and when hooked, will leave a generous amount on the fishing line above the hook.
Common at 1-3 pounds, but can reach 8 pounds.
Food Value:
Fair, but can have a slightly pronounced "fishy" taste.

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