Catfish are found all over the inshore waters throughout the Gulf of Mexico and in the Atlantic Ocean. Anglers are usually annoyed by the catfish, but if you’re just looking for some action, on some days, the catfish can save the day because they seem like they are always willing to bite.
There are 2 main types of catfish in saltwater. They are the Headhead catfish and the Gafftopsail catfish.
Hardhead catfish are available in large numbers throughout the bays and gulf waters. You will find them in the Gulf of Mexico and in the Atlantic Ocean. This type of catfish isn’t good table fare, so for most anglers, they are a nuisance. If you can’t get the other fish to bite and you want some action, these are one of the easiest fish to catch in the ocean. They do fight good however, so if you want an easy target for some action, go ahead and target these catfish.
Gafftopsail catfish are unique looking, but they are just like regular catfish as far as where they will be found and what they eat. You can find these fish throughout the Gulf and Atlantic in the bays or Gulf waters.
Best Baits for Saltwater Catfish
Catfish are very opportunistic eaters. They will eat pretty much all cut bait and shrimp. If you find these fish in an area where you’re fishing, you may have to go with live baits to keep the catfish from biting. So if you’re looking to target them, try cut baits and you’ll do just fine. Shrimp, squid and bait fish all work great.
Fishing Rigs & Techniques
Any bottom rig will work. Cast it out and let it sit. You can drift with the current too and do well with catfish.
Medium heavy rods and reels will get the job done. You can go a little lighter, but you probably shouldn’t in case you get a different fish to hit. You don’t want to lose a big redfish or snook while using light tackle while you target these catfish. 15 to 20 pound line is sufficient. A 20 to 30 pound leader is ideal due to all the other fish that may eat your baits.
Eating Saltwater Catfish
Most people do not eat these fish. They are considered a trash fish.
Most people do not eat these fish, but they are edible. Unlike the saltwater hardhead catfish, many people do actually enjoy eating these fish.