March 27, 2017

How To Grab A Catfish Safely

How To Grab a Catfish Safely

Have you heard stories of how others have been jabbed while handling a catfish that it left you bothered by how to grab a catfish? After a successful fishing experience, you may want to inspect the catch. However, holding a catfish is not a simple task as holding any other type of fish.

A catfish is slippery and has three fins, two on the side and one on top. These fins have sharp spikes that could prick you if you don’t handle the fish with care. Also, their spikes are venomous, and a single puncture is painful and could lead to swelling.


How To Grab A Catfish Safely

If you are not lucky, then you may probably need to see a doctor immediately. When your skin is pricked by the catfish spike, it could lead to increased blood flow, in that, you may be losing more blood than you think. Doctors refer to it as a hemolytic condition.

Despite the uncertainty of what could happen when you are ‘brave’ enough to handle a catfish, this shouldn’t keep you from being able to make a succinct meal out of the fish. This tutorial focuses on the various ways you can handle the Bullhead, Channel or Flatbed catfish.

Well, here are a sample pro tips on how to hold a catfish while at the same time minimizing the risks you face:

What Do You Need To Know Before You Hold A Catfish?

Size Of The Fish Matters

Before you decide on which method to use while grabbing that catfish, you need to know that the size of the fish matters. Methods on how to hold a catfish are dependent on it size. Small catfish are easier to grip with one hand, but they are most likely to squirm under your grip than larger ones.Also, smaller catfish have bigger and sharper spikes.

Method Of Fishing

Yes, the method of fishing determines which steps you will need to take as you handle the catfish. If you are the line and hook kind of fisherman, then you know that you will need to unhook your catch. If not, then you don’t need to worry about removing the hook from the fish’s mouth.

Method of Fishing


If you have decided that today is the day that you will hold a catfish, then you need to ensure that your hand is steady as you grip at it. You shouldn’t give room for the fish to squirm under your hand as you risk the chance of getting spiked.

Keep a firm and steady grip on the catfish as you hold it, with your fingers strategically positioned as will be elaborated later in this tutorial.

Their Spines Extend

When a catfish is removed from the water, its spines extends naturally. It is prudent to ensure that there is enough distance from the fish to your skin. This fact makes it easier for one to remove the hook from its mouth.

It acts as a backstop, where you can rest your arm. This is because, once the fins are extended, they do not coil backward.

Method Of Fishing

Teeth Of The Catfish

Catfish have small teeth that rarely don’t bite when you hold it by the mouth. You will probably feel like you are running your fingers over sandpaper. However, sometimes, their bite could break your skin, but they are not too dangerous.

Ways On How To Grab A Catfish

Hold It On A Flat Surface

This method requires accuracy and precision. The whiskers are used for smell; you shouldn’t be bothered by them. However, you need to be aware of the dorsal and side fins as they have spikes.

For you to nail this, you need to flip the fish over and wrap your hands around the fish. How do you wrap your fingers around the catfish? You need to place your fingers on either side of one of the side fins, and your thumb below the other fin.

Remember to use a firm and steady grip so as to prevent the fish from squirming. This could lead to being poked by the fish. This method is suited for small fish.

Larger fish will require you to use both hands as long as you place your fingers as instructed above.

Hold it on a flat surface

Hold It By The Mouth

When you want to remove your catch from the hook, you could hold it by the string in the mouth while gripping at its tail. Ensure that you keep the fish at a safe distance so that its spines are not in contact with your skin or anyone else’s.

Gripping at its tail helps to stabilize your hold on the fish and keeps it from moving about. Well, you wouldn’t want it to splash droplets of water on your face. This could probably cause you to lose your grip on the catfish.

Once you have firmly held the tail, run your hand up the body of the fish. When you get to the back of the pectoral fin, rest your hand against it. You can then reach for the hook and remove it from the catfish’s mouth.

This method is suitable when dealing with a big catfish. You could also pick it up by the bottom lip, hold it firmly in one hand and work on it with the other.

Cover Your Hands

If you aren’t too sure about your grip, the safest way to hold a catfish is by covering your hands. You could do this by putting on gloves or using a towel. Place the fish on a flat surface then, with a towel or rag in hand, hold the fish accordingly.

You will then have to pin it to the ground as you work on it. This is the most common method that has been in practice for a long time now. The rag/ glove keeps your skin safe as it prevents the spikes from poking you.

It reduces the chances of the stray spines getting into contact with your skin. Well, they say, it is better to be safe than sorry. This method applies to both small and big fish and is easy to execute.


A catfish is slippery, and its fins are spiked. It is, therefore, prudent to use caution while handling one. The spikes are venomous and could cause some serious damage if you happen to get jabbed by one.

The methods outlined above are easy ways on how to grab a catfish. For a newbie, holding a catfish may prove to be difficult, but with time and practice, it becomes simpler. The teeth of the catfish rarely bite, and therefore, you shouldn’t fear to hold the fish by its mouth.

If you follow the steps as outlined above, well, you won’t need to worry about getting poked by the spikes. So, go out there and get fishing.

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Patterson Riley

I'm Patterson, and I’m absolutely in love with fishing blogs. At the weekend, I usually go fishing with my best friends. So, I build this blog to share all the information about it by my passion.

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