Three tactics for saltwater catfish fishing

One of the oldest and most popular game fish sought out today is the catfish. They can be caught in all types of water including both freshwater and saltwater. The catfish has always been known as a scavenger fish because they stay on the bottom of the water most of the time. This gave off the impression that the catfish was a lazy species that waited for their food to come by instead of seeking out a meal.

In some cases this is true but not always. The catfish have been known to catch fast moving bass lures and they will seek out food when hungry. Sometimes, they’ll hover two or three feet above the bottom and once in a while they can even be found in the shallow parts of the water.

One of the main features the catfish is known for is their strong sense of smell. This makes up for their poor eyesight. It’s also the reason why stink bait and anything else with an odor is an excellent bait to use when catfish fishing. Another thing about the catfish that makes them a popular game fish is the fact that they can grow to some amazing sizes that make them even harder to reel in and a great species for anyone seeking out a trophy fish.

Saltwater Catfish

The two main types of catfish found in saltwater are the gafftopsail and the hardhead catfish. The gafftopsail was given this named because the dorsal fin sticking from its back closely resembles the sail of a ship. The spines that support the pectoral and the dorsal fins are very sharp and coated with a slimy toxin that can be very painful if you get stuck and they can make you sick as well.

The hardhead can be found in the coastal waters and shallows but they are the most abundant in the muddy waters found in bays. They have six rounded barbells protruding from the chin that looks like whiskers, hence the name catfish. This type of catfish also has the sharp barbed spine that’s covered with slime so, be careful not to get stuck when removing that hook.

Saltwater Catfish Tactics

Saltwater catfish fishing doesn’t require any special gear but you do need to have strong durable equipment to handle the size and the struggle the fish will put up once hooked. They’re a strong species that will fight you all the way to shore. As a result, if your equipment can’t hold up to the struggle, you’ll most likely lose your catch.
It’s not unusual for a large saltwater catfish to break fishing line or snap a rod into.

After making sure you have the right gear, you need to decide which tactics you want to use. The tactics that you use is very important and needs to be considered before you start fishing to increase the number of bites you can get.

Three tactics for saltwater catfish fishing are listed below:
1. Choose a fishing method that will help you get the bait down on the bottom of the water where they’re most likely to be. Still fishing, drift fishing and bottom fishing are all good options that can yield excellent results.
2. When fishing for saltwater catfish using live or dead bait is your best option. You can use artificial bait but it’s more difficult to get them to strike since they use their sense of smell to hunt for food. The catfish are drawn to the smell of live or dead bait so they naturally work better. Some of your best options include shrimp, frogs, slugs, worms and smaller fish. However, chicken livers and stink baits will also work very well.
3. The catfish have very tough mouths that are hard to penetrate so go over your hooks and make sure they’re sharp and in good shape before going fishing. The circle hooks are the favorite of many anglers because these hook and hold the catfish more securely than other types of hooks.

Many anglers consider the catfish to be an annoying species because when you’re fishing for something else they have a tendency of stealing your bait away. On the other hand, when you’re seeking them out they can be very difficult to catch. They’re stubborn and if they’re not in the mood to feed, it can be hard to get them to strike.
However, the tactics listed above can help you get more bites and catch the ones you do get when you’re actually trying to reel in the catfish.

The catfish also has a predatory nature, which means if you get the bait in their territory, they’ll strike even when they’re not hungry. Therefore, this is the best way to entice them to take your bait if you’re having problems. You can go saltwater catfish fishing most anytime but they do seem to be more active at night so, this is considered the best time to go fishing especially if you’re seeking out the larger ones.


Dan Eggertsen is a fellow catfish fishing enthusiast to the point of obsession. :) He's been providing solid advice on catfish fishing since 2004.

© 2011 Ask Catfish Fishing. All rights reserved. Sitemap
Proudly designed by TotalTreasureChest.