|Gaftopsail Catfish (courtesy to Florida Wildlife Commission)|
Their skin, like their smaller, more common cousin in salt water, the Hardhead Cat, is covered with a slimy mucus. I wear gripping gloves when I handle them to reduce getting horned, and help me hang on to the fish a lot more easily.
|note the gripping gloves as I remove the fish from the landing net (Photo: Earlena Leonard,
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Still, record fish or not, they are a nice fight when you get one hooked. You'll know when you have a hit because you'll start spooling out line fast fast enough to make the drag ratchet clicker sing until you tighten down the drag and set the hook. Personally, I use Kahle hooks, because like the circle hook, they are essentially a self setting hook, unlike the J Hook.
|Octopus Circle Hook|
So, what bait works for Sailcats? Well, I've caught 'em on both live and frozen shrimp, frozen white shrimp from the grocery freezer, cut bait from various baitfish such as Pinfish, Finger mullet, Croakers I've caught, Greenies from cast netting. I've also caught them on freezer burned fish from the stuff I may have lost in the freezer, and of course, squid works, as well. They are a predator fish, much like their freshwater cousins, Channel and Blue Cats.\
The habitat of the sailcat is inshore and continental waters, estuaries, and lagoons. They will enter brackish water, as well. Their diet is small crustaceans, smaller fish and minnows, and the opportunistic bits of floating fish from larger fish predation.
|Note the sail like appearance of the dorsal fin, and the really big barbs on both the dorsal and pectoral fins|
Step 1: Wash the catfish down in a vinegar and water solution to get the slime off of the fish and remove the head and split the belly and clean the cavity, so far, so good. I like top cut the barbs off before I start cleaning the cats, though, because I really don't want to get stuck!
Step 2: Skin the fish. Salt water cats skins are a bit harder to pull off using the score and plier method, but it works.
Step 3: Fillet the fish and cut out the red meat. That's where the gamey and oily taste comes from, and leave that nice firm, pretty white fish meat.
Step 4: Blanch the fish fillets in cold water with some citrus like lime or lemon juice in it. I like to use Ponzu Sauce, myself for the nice flavor it gives the fish.
|A nice recipe for sailcats|