The Barbel, also known as the Sharptooth Catfish or Baber.

The Barbel must be one of South Africa’s favourite freshwater fishing species.

(Clarias Gariepinus)

Barbel also known as the Baber or Sharptooth Catfish



Other Names.

African Sharptooth Catfish or Baber.

Identification of the Barbel.

The body of the barbel is flat towards the tail and the pectoral fin is long. This pectoral fin stretches from behind the head to the basis of the tail. The anal fin is rather long and stretches from the anus to the basis of the tail. The caudal fin is rounded. The head of the this fish is big, flat and heavy, with the eyes being small and is placed in the front of the head and to the sides. The mouth is big with broad strong jaws that has fine sharp pointed teeth. There are 4 pairs of long feelers or barbs from which the fish gets it’s name. The colour of the fish is, from being almost black to light brown with shades of olive green or grey. The belly of this fish is white. Barbels can reach a length of 2 metres with a weight of over 40 kilograms.

Distribution through South Africa.

This fish is spread widely throughout South Africa. It can be found in almost all our dams, rivers, marshes, private dams and even streams.

How to locate this fish.

Barbels often rise to the surface to “breathe” and they can easily be spotted when they do so.

Baits to use for the Barbel.

Artlure such as plastics and leadheads, as well as other artlure can be used very effectively. Fleshy baits work extremely well. Fleshy baits to try are baits like earthworms, chicken livers, day old chicks, platannas, fish head or fish fillets. The Sharptooth Catfish will also pick up carp baits like boilies and floaties as well as tigernuts from time to time.

Tackle to use when hunting Barbels.

Medium to heavy tackle with medium to large hooks are recommended. Heavy tackle is recommended especially when targeting the larger specimens, as these fish are excellent fighters and will look for any type of structure to wrap and break your line.

Catching Barbel Video.

Very Nice video showing a barbel being caught at Roodeplaat Dam in South Africa.

Barbel fishing is great, mainly due to the size these fish can attain as well as their good fighting qualities when hooked.