The Gafftopsail Catfish

The Gafftopsail Catfish
Difficulty

Period

All year

Minimum size

no restriction

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The Gafftopsail catfish belongs to the Ariidae Family. The typical length of an adult gafftopsail catfish is about 43 cm and it has an average weight of 910 g. It has a lifetime of 5 to 8 years. They breed from May to August. It can be fished all year round.
The Gafftopsail catfish are blue-grey to dark brown with a light grey belly. Its appearance is typical of a catfish, except for its deeply forked tail and poisonous, serrated spines. It also has a small hump that looks like a wave. The anal fin is white or pale blue a few centimeters from the tail, with 22-28 rays and a high anterior lobe. The pelvic fin is between 15 and 30 cm in front of the caudal fin. The Gafftopsail catfish has maxillary barbells and a pair of barbells on its chin. It resembles the hardheaded catfish, but its backbone has a distinct fleshy extension (such as a ship's fore and aft topsail).

The Gafftopsail Catfish Lifestyle

It eats mainly crustaceans, including crabs, shrimps and prawns (95% of the diet), but it also eats worms, other invertebrates and bony fish.
Gafftopsail catfish brood on coastal mudflats for a relatively short period (10 days) from May to August; they are mouth breeders. The eggs are about 2.5 cm in diameter. Males keep about 55 eggs in their mouths until they hatch. The young are about 5 cm long at hatching and the male can continue to incubate them up to 10 cm long. Males do not feed when they carry eggs or young.

The Gafftopsail Catfish Habitat

Fish most often feed near the bottom of the water column and are generally found there. It is also found in brackish waters, including estuaries, lagoons, brackish seas and mangroves. Gafftopsails are generally common to abundant in their range.
The Gafftopsail catfish live on the coasts of the Atlantic, Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico, from Cape Cod to Brazil.

The Gafftopsail Catfish Angling

They can be takken with jetties, piers, reefs and surfing, as well as from bottom fishing or shrimp fishing. They can be caught with bait and cut shrimp, or lures such as plugs, spoons and spinners, as well as flexible plastic lures resembling shrimp, worms and shad. They are attracted by the sound of struggling fish, as if a cork were jumping. Catfish trapping can also be used to catch them, but it is regulated in some states. Catfish traps include "slatted traps", long wooden traps with an angled entrance and hoop traps. Typical bait in these traps includes rotten cheese and dog food.

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