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Sail cats on the fly...

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...Do these things really hit artificials/flies. Back when I was more into natural bait fishing (on trips to FL) I used to occasionally catch these catfish (talking about the slightly more desirable sail cats, not the nasty sea cats). However, since turning to a predominant artificial/fly guy, I have not caught one. From what I read, supposedly they hit flies and artificial lures. What's the real scoop? Anyone catch these on a consistent basis on a fly (vs a one off or occasional occurrence)???

 

As I mentioned before, I'm not interested in those smaller, nasty 'sea cats' and in fact, don't really want to target sail cats specifically - however, from what I recall, they seem like they'd put up quite a fight on a fly rod

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View PostI know there's a "gafftopsail catfish," which I take to be your sail cat. There's a "sea cat" that is different? Someone fill me in.

 

 

 

There are primarily two types of saltwater catfish in FL - one is the type you referred to (and often called 'sail cats').That one is the larger of the two and is in general, considered the more 'sportier' of the two - it has long filaments off it's first dorsal fin and two pectoral fins.

 

The second smaller one is considered a pest fish and in fact, I don't think it's known for hitting flies or artificials.

 

You can get sail cats at least over 5 lbs (probably larger) while the regular 'sea' cats are almost always under 2 lbs...The sea cats are way more common and not considered good to eat (sail cats considered edible, although I don't know if I'd eat one). Basically, if you go to a pier, bridge or jetty and see all the bait fishermen catching a mess of catfish, they're probably sea catfish. They're worse than dogfish here in the northeast once they infiltrate an area.

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Here in the panhandle we too have both types of sea cats, one we call sailcats [the gaftopsail species previously mentioned] and another that are called simply "hardheads". Sailcats are actually quite good table fare while the hardheads are rarely eaten, probably just a cultural thing. I have caught both types on the fly, usually while targeting other species. However just a week or so back we were having a particularly bad day of sight fishing a flat. And since we could see hardheads cruising we decided to throw some Spoon Rats in their direction. They turned out to be more than willing to take our offerings. We caught several before moving on to "greener" pastures. The largest sailcat I have caught may have gone 4-5 pounds, while the largest hardhead was maybe two pounds.

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Only caught sailcats by accident, not the thing you are hoping for

 

when fishing for Snook smile.gif

 

Caught the one below in a pass, note it was past sunset.

 

Have not caught any during the day.

 

DSC_3010.jpg

 

Never had the hardhead cats on the fly in open water but I admit to sightcasting to them

 

when I saw a couple of them below a dock.

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I was fishing the pass with a rather small EP minnow, something in white.

 

At outgoing tide baitfish would mass in the mouth of the pass and soon after that loads of big ladyfish would move in.

 

The catfish was I guess also on the prowl with all the baitfish around.

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I catch them once in a while on flies. They dont seem to be particular. I've even caught them on topwater. They pull pretty hard, but I dont like hooking them. They are a PITA to get off the hook. They are very slimy and their barbs hurt every bit as much as a stingray. No matter how careful you are, sooner or later one of them nicks you.

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