Gaff Topsail Catfish on board 18 X 12 "
For those fishermen of recent arrival, the catfish is only known as a freshwater fish, generally caught or raised in freshwater rivers, lakes, and ponds. In the past, however, the saltwater catfish was omnipresent in our creeks, rivers, and surf zones. Catfish and toadfish were the fisherman's nemesis , eating up all the bait and leaving little for our gamefish. The saltwater catfish is heavily armored with barbed spikes that live in the dorsal and pectoral fins ; these sharp barbed rigid spikes have stabbed many a fisherman over the years as the disgusted fisherman attempted to remove the hook from the fish's leathery mouth structures. Many a young fishermen have prayed that these " ugly and dangerous" fish just vanish from our prime fishing spots. Suddenly, there were no more saltwater catfish! They suddenly became rare and subsequently "endangered".
The reason for the saltwater catfish decline is unknown. Marine Zoologists suspect a viral epidemic as no known other parasite has been identified. These fish are now "protected" by DNR and probably reportable.
The two different saltwater catfish species are commonly called the "Hardhead" and the "Gaff Topsail" catfish. While the Hardhead was ugly and numerous, the Gaff Topsail was elegant , strange, and somewhat colorful. The Gaff Topsail Cat has extremely long "whiskers" near is small mouth , an elegantly long dorsal fin from which it derives its name, and wispy long pectoral fins. With all this extra fin and sail, one wonders how this fish gets around. Rarely did one hook a Gaff Topsail, even when the Hardhead was abundant. Also, the Gaff Topsail has not been as "hard-Hit" as the Hardhead. After recently landing a Gaff Topsail at Cape Romain and recognizing it's beauty, I decided to paint this acrylic on a board. Freshly landed it reveals a silvery iridescence and may adorn pink, blue, green and black shades. I promptly returned my fish to the ocean and have not seen one since.
This painting is on a white pine board and therefore weighs 3 and 1/4 pounds.