NEW PORT RICHEY, Fla. — A Pasco County child is recovering after firefighters said he was punctured in the chest by a catfish barb while out fishing.
Pasco County Fire Leaders said a day out fishing Monday afternoon quickly turned scary for a mom and son when the boy, who is less than 10 years old, reeled in a catfish and the catfish’s barb pierced him in the chest.
Corey Dierdorff, the Public Information Officer for Pasco County Fire Rescue, said it was a concerning wound for first responders.
“It was about an inch to an inch and a half deep wound right below the nipple. That’s a very concerning area when you’re talking about a penetrating wound into the chest cavity," he explained.
Dierdorff said the location where the mom and son were fishing is not immediately known, but that the mother tried to drive her son to the hospital. While they were driving along US-19, the son started having trouble breathing. That's when the mom called 911 and first responders airlifted the boy to St. Joseph's Children's Hospital.
At Rusty Bucket Bait and Tackle in New Port Richey, owner William Rutherford said he’s often educating new fishermen about the dangers of reeling in certain types of sea life.
“Sharks are kind of like the no-brainer. People know not to handle those but catfish and sting rays somehow get overlooked," he explained.
In Florida, certain types of catfish are venomous, which is why Rutherford uses a de-hooker device every time he fishes.
“Probably everybody that has fished in Florida for a while has been pricked by a catfish before. It feels like a bee sting mixed with a little puncture," he elaborated. “I see the big problem being most of the people who come down and visit Florida who don’t realize our catfish are poisonous and their catfish back home may not be.”
Javaris "Mike" Leach is cautious around catfish too. “I'm very cautious because catfish wait until they get hands reach before they start shaking and that’s where they get you. If you are close, they swing and if you keep it close to your body, you’re liable to get stabbed," he explained.
Pasco County Firefighters said the boy is expected to be okay.
At this time, no further details have been released.