Gafftopsail Catfish

Gafftopsail Catfish are bluish on top and silvery below with long, fleshy filaments on the dorsal and pectoral fins.

They have a barbel (“whisker”) at each corner of the mouth that is flattened, band like, and very long.

They also have 2 barbels on the chin.

Gafftopsail Catfish Illustration by Duane Raver, Jr.
Season Open Year Round
Size Limit No Size Limit
Daily Limit / Person No Limit
Delaware Range Atlantic Ocean, Lower Delaware Bay, and Inland Bays
Abundance in Delaware Waters Rare
General Habitat and Food Preferences Gafftopsail Catfish roam coastal flats but prefer channels and other deep areas. Although mainly marine, it does enter brackish estuaries with relatively high salinities.

They feed mostly on blue crabs but also consume small fishes, shrimps, and marine worms.
Did You Know? Gafftopsail Catfish are named for the top fin that rises from their back like a sail.

They have sharp spines on the dorsal and pectoral fins. These spines are not only sharp; they are venomous which can cause painful wounds. They are not poisonous though.
Common Lures and Baits Live shrimp, small crabs, and small fish are good natural baits for Gafftopsail Catfish.

Artificial worms and spoons will also work.

They feed throughout the water column, but baits fished near the bottom work best.
Typical Sizes Caught In general, Gafftopsail Catfish caught by anglers weigh between 1 and 3 pounds.
Citation Minimum Length and Weight Gafftopsail Catfish are not currently eligible for a Delaware Sport Fishing Tournament or Live Release award, but a large specimen may qualify for an “Unusual Species” award.
Delaware State Record Gafftopsail Catfish are not currently eligible for any Delaware record.