In a typical sense, catfish do not have a true stinger but they can injure you with their pectoral and dorsal fin. There are many catfish species with venom glands at the base of spines. However, many catfish stings are uncomfortable but not unbearable. The most serious concern with these stings is secondary infection.
Are Barbels dangerous?
The barbels are also known as catfish whiskers or barbs, they are harmless and cannot hurt you. Touching the barbels will help you understand that they are not harmful. They are soft and do not sting. The whiskers help the catfish in tasting food before entering the mouth. They are also useful in smelling of prey in murky waters, the barbs are not in any way used for protection.
When dealing with younger catfish the sting is more of an issue. The young catfish that is under 3lbs have sharp stingers that act as weapons when thrashing out. The spines dull as the catfish ages and larger and older catfish sting will not hurt like that of the small and young one.
Holding a catfish
You, therefore, need to know how to hold a catfish in the right way to avoid stinging. Grip the catfish from the top and behind its head and pectoral fins. In this position ensure that the dorsal fin is not harming you.
You can also place your arm underneath the catfish. Make sure that you hold firmly for the fish might decide to flop around. If the catfish is large then the spines are large and of little concern. I would suggest a novice angler control a catfish using a lip gripper until they are more comfortable with them to further reduce risk.
It’s usually your apprehension about firmly grasping catfish in your palm that gets you stuck. You must commit to the grab and maintain a firm grip. If you don’t think you’ll be able to do it, use a fish grip until you’re more confident.
How to treat a catfish sting?
If you have been stung shallowly then this can be tolerated with good cleaning and pain medication, for deep stings make sure to seek the help of a medical practitioner. This is to avoid infections that might be brought by deep stinging.
If you need to release a small catfish, it is good to simply drop it out of the hand into the water. If you attempt to throw the fish, then this is putting you at risk and the spines might hurt you. You, therefore, need to do a quick drop by opening the hand and this will keep you away from a nasty cut the fins of the catfish.
Catfish can sting you with their fins that is why you need to be careful. You have to take extra caution when dealing with smaller catfish than with large ones. The spines of the smaller catfish are like daggers and might get you or a nearby angler if not careful which is so painful and nasty.