Eel-like fishes and catfishes

Gafftopsail Catfish Gafftop-sail Catfish
Bagre marinus


To 3'3" (99 cm). Somewhat elongate; head slightly depressed; dorsal profile straight from snout to base of dorsal fin; bluish-gray above, fading to silvery on sides and white below. Mouth terminal;, slightly inferior; 2 pairs of barbels: maxillary barbels long, ribbonlike; barbels on chin small. Long, ribbonlike filament extending from pectoral and dorsal fin spines. Pectoral, dorsal, and caudal fins dusky; pelvic and anal fins light dusky; adipose fin bluish black.


Spines on the pectoral and dorsal fins can cause painful wounds.


Shallow coastal and bay areas; seasonal in estuaries.


Uncommon north of North Carolina; ranges south to Brazil, including Gulf of Mexico; virtually absent from Antilles.


The Gafftopsail Catfish has an unusual method of reproduction, similar to that of the Hardhead Catfish. It is considered a good food and game fish in many parts of its range. Most of these fishes reach a length of about 18" (46 cm).