Hardhead Catfish (Arius felis)
- Other Names
- Sea Catfish, Tourist Trout
- Hardhead catfish have six rounded barbels that stick out from their chins like whiskers. These barbels help the catfish find crabs, fish and shrimp in the muddy bays where they live. The dorsal and pectoral fins each are supported by a sharp, slime-covered barbed spine. The dorsal spine normally is held erect when the fish is excited and a tennis shoe or even a leather-soled shoe offers little protection.
Adults may reach two pounds or more, but the average is about 10 inches and half a pound. Texas record is 3.3 pounds; 19 inches; 1997.
- Life History
- Hardheads spawn in the spring; the male carries the eggs in his mouth until they hatch and the young catfish are able to care for themselves.
- The hardhead catfish occurs in large numbers in both bay and Gulf waters.
- Atlantic and Gulf waters.
- How To Catch
- Hardheads are voracious feeders and will take any type of natural bait. NOTE: Exercise great care when removing this fish from your hook as the slime layer covering the large barbed dorsal spine is mildly toxic. A puncture will be followed by severe pain and swelling. The spine is also barbed, which makes withdrawal an additionally painful process. Pliers or other devices should be used to hold the fish while removing the hook. Most of all, do not use your foot to hold it still. The dorsal spine is normally held erect and tennis shoes or leather-soled shoes are not enough protection.
- Where To Catch
- Hardheads can be caught in most bay and Gulf waters.
- How To Eat
- While the flesh is edible, it isn't very tasty and the fish is difficult to clean.
- Hardheads are notorious bait thieves and since they occur in great numbers, it is often difficult to catch other species -- particularly near well fished piers or bridges.