Saltwater catfish

Discussion in 'All Catfishing' started by ohio catfisherman, Mar 20, 2007.

  1. ohio catfisherman

    ohio catfisherman New Member

    i heard someone talking about some catfish species can live in saltwater they were saying white catfish can and they thought blues and channels could too can anyone answer this question please
  2. JAinSC

    JAinSC Active Member

    South Carolina
    There are 2 species of catfish that are true saltwater fish: hardhead cats and gafftopsail cats. The hardheads are universally agreed to be trash, but the gaff tops are supposed to be good eating.

    I guess, though, that you were asking if the regualr freshwater cats can live in salt water. Yes and No. None of them can live in full strength seawater (which is about 35 parts per thousand or about 35 grams of salt per liter of water), but pretty much all of them can stand a little bit of salt. Channel cats, blues, and flatheads can all stand up to about 10 parts per thousand for a while and will live pretty happily up to about 5 ppt. White cats are actually a brackish water fish by choice. They live in fresh water, but they just love the lower ends of the river down around 10 ppt.

    Where the magic salinity is found varries from river to river and depends on how much rain we've had lately (how much fresh water is coming down river). I don;t know for sure, but I've heard that when the Mississippi is running pretty good, you can have pretty much fresh water for several miles out into the Gulf of Mexico. On the rivers that I fish in SC, I'll use the Combahee for an example. During a drought the salinity at the Highway 17 bridge accross the river (the legal saltwater/freshwater line) can be over 20 ppt - so you'll find nothing but saltwater fish there then. But during rainy periods, there can be full fresh water for 5 to 10 miles down below the bridge.

    I don't really recommend it (you can catch some nasty bugs), but if you taste the river water and can taste salt at all,, then it's probably a bit too salty for freshwater cats. Generally, if you see freshwater plants along the bank (like pickerel weed or arrowroot or lilly pads, not saltmarsh grass), then the water is probably good for the cats.

  3. slimepig

    slimepig New Member

    Kerrville Texas
    i have caught channel catfish from the same spot i catch redfish and speckled trout. It is a river spot about 5 miles from where it opens to the bay. when the tide is out i catch the channels, when the tide is in, i catch the reds n trout. I dunno whether its that the catfish can handle the salty water, or if the reds n trout are handling the fresher water.
    BTW, dont confuse the freshwater catfish with the hard head catfish in these tidal areas. the hard head is one nasty tastin fish! correct me if im wrong someone, but you can tell the difference between fresh and saltwater cats by the number of whiskers it has; fresh has 8, hardheads have 4 and gafftops have 6.
  4. kyjake

    kyjake New Member

    When fishing saltwater in the panhandle of Florida I always catch a bunch of catfish.There are two species,[SIZE=-1]gafftopsail catfish called 'sailcat' by the local people,and another called 'hardhead'.Most people say they are no good to eat but a few say they are good.Have never cleaned and eat either one but on my next trip this fall will try both and form my own opinion.
    In about 1970 I caught a sailcat below Greenup dam.Have not found anyone in all these past years that can explain why it was there.It was about 12" long and skinny compared to the ones I catch out of the ocean
  5. allworknofish

    allworknofish New Member


    if you can find the post that i did titled blue cat and red fish mix, youll see the pics of all the fish i caught right in the bay. i know here in texas these blue cat will go flat out in salt water occasionally. you could taste quite a bit of salt in this water and it was only about 3 foot deep where i was fishing. as far as the gaffstop cats...just bleed em when you catch em and the meat is as pretty as any bluecat and just as good tastin.

    Attached Files:

  6. riverdawg-1

    riverdawg-1 New Member

    salem, va
    A few years ago we awere at Cresent besch Fla.and all we caught all week were saltwater cats, not sure what kind but they ranged from 1-5#. In a week we probably caught close to 100 with 3 of us surf fishing, let them all go. Cresent is about 50 miles north of Daytona
  7. Pylodictis Olivaris

    Pylodictis Olivaris New Member

    Good posts.....I was alway curious about the freshwater lakes, rivers, streams that dump into saltwater and how it affects catfish and at what point in the freshwater/brakish water do they stop inhabiting due to too much salt. Anyone who lives in a costal regioin that has more info or input on this let me know....I'm stuck here in heartland and have no hands on experience with fishing those types of waters that converge from fresh to salt