Gafftopsail catfish

The Gafftopsail catfish, also known as Bagre marinus, is well populated in waters belonging to the western parts of the Atlantic Ocean. It is also abundant within the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico.

It is a common catch in the US, mainly in southeastern areas. They are called so because of their top fin, which rises from the back of the body as a sail does. They have sharp spines that are not venomous but can cause harm.


The body of a Gafftopsail catfish is bluish in color on the top, while the underbelly is silver in color. It has long fleshy filaments that lie on the pectoral and dorsal fins.

The fish has dorsal fins that rise from the back and contain very sharp spines that support the fins. It has two short barbels on its chin. The maximum size of the fish is 2 ft., and the weight is 8 lbs.

Habitat and Lifestyle

The Gafftopsail lives in shallow waters with medium-sized depth near the shore. It?s found in the Gulfs within marine estuaries and brackish waters, usually in warm weather.

They roam around the flat coasts until winter arrives and migrate to warmer marine waters. They dwell most commonly in sea channels that are deep and have high salinity.

Finding and Catching

This fish can be caught from an inflatable boat or kayak.

They are easily found within the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico, where they consume crabs. The males tend to foster over 55 eggs in their mouths until hatching time.

So, when hooking them in, getting a male Gafftopsail would be a fantastic catch during spawning season. Gafftopsail catfish are covered in mucous, so handling them can be challenging if not prepared.

Peak Season

The Gafftopsail catfish is not a seasonal fish and can be caught all year round.

Best Bait

Some of the best baits to use when trying to catch Gafftopsail catfish are:

  • Worms
  • Small fish
  • Spoons
  • Blue crabs
  • Shrimps