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Flathead catfish are one of the oldest fish species in freshwater. Do you want to learn how to catch flathead catfish? Flatheads are often found in large waters. Flatheads are solitary and difficult to catch. They are the toughest of all catfish to catch. When hooked on the line, flathead catfish will put up a hard fight. It is one of the fastest growing fishes and grows to be very big up to 100 pounds. Additionally, it is a delicious and nutritional fish.
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How To Catch Flathead Catfish
One of the best ways to catch flathead catfish during the day is to look for structures such as brush, rip rap, underwater piles of debris, driftwood piles, snags, riverbank cavities, and submerged logs. Drop your line with bait near these structures. When the fish is hooked, don’t fight it with the reel.
Instead, point the rod straight up, and allow the bend of the rod to tire the fish. Stand firm when the fish is fighting and when it eases it, lower your rod tip toward the water, reeling on the drop. Don’t over-apply pressure. Moreover, bottom fishing can also be used to catch flathead catfish.
Flatheads feed at night and fishing them during the night can be more productive as they are less wary during the night. You will catch larger flatheads during the night than in the daytime. When you fish for flathead catfish from the shore, use a longer rod as it is better for casting distance. Additionally, it can also prevent the flatheads from swimming in the rocks when you reel them in.
When fishing for flatheads from a river and you are casting flathead catfish baits, use two fishing rods to cover a few of the main areas. Cast one rod close to the bank and one toward the middle of the river.
How To Catch Flathead Catfish In Lakes
Catfish are bottom feeders and will often be found at the bottom. However, they will move up in the water column to feed during the night. River channels and hard bottoms are areas to look for flathead catfish. They eat almost anything including minnows, earthworms, crickets, and mealworms.
Use baits and lures when fishing for flathead catfish. Anglers use a form of chumming to lure flathead catfish into smaller areas thereby making it easier to catch them.
How To Catch Flathead Catfish In A River
When fishing for flathead catfish in a river, look for bushes, fallen trees, rocky drop-offs, and shaded areas. They eat almost anything that can fit in their mouths. Therefore you have a wide pool of baits that you can use. Cast your baits and lures to any structure that you discovered. Try casting in different parts of the river until you find the spots where they are located.
How To Catch Flathead Catfish From Shore
When fishing for flathead catfish from the shore, look for areas of the water that provide shade or cover. Fallen trees, logs, wrecks, and other cover. I like to divide the water into 3 to four parts and start testing each section with baits and lures. Flathead catfish eat anything that can fit into their mouths.
Bream, minnows, and worms are some of the baits that can be used when fishing for flathead catfish. Cast into each area from the shore to find catfish. It is a trial-and-error strategy until you hit a spot that brings you some catfish.
Flathead Catfish Fishing Tackle
A 7 to 9 feet medium/heavy action rod with 300 yards of 20 lb line. Use a 40 to 60-lb monofilament or 80 to 100-pound braided line. Use hooks with sizes 4/0 to 8/0.
Best Bait For Flathead Catfish
Bullheads work well for flathead catfish.
Asian carp is a good bait for flathead catfish.
Goldfish, sunfish, bluegill, and live perch are good baits for flathead catfish.
Sunfish, like goldfish and bluegill, is a good bait for flathead catfish.
Bluegill is a very good and effective bait for catching flathead catfish.
Perch, especially live perch, is a very good bait for flathead catfish.
7. Small Catfish
Small catfish work well as bait for flathead catfish.
Minnows attract flatheads and are excellent bait for catching flathead catfish.
Suckers work well for catching flathead catfish.
Shad is also a good bait for flathead catfish.
Crayfish is a good bait for flatheads and attracts flathead catfish.
Flathead Catfish Fishing Tips
1. Flatheads have a very good sense of smell and can taste and smell minute quantities of certain compounds. This helps to attract them to your bait but also be a deterrent when they smell things like tobacco, sunscreen, insect repellant, gasoline, etc.
2. Flathead catfish spawn during summer when the water temperature is about 72 to 84 degrees Fahrenheit.
3. Flathead catfish likes structures like brush, rip rap, underwater piles of debris, driftwood piles, snags, riverbank cavities, and submerged logs.
4. Flathead catfish can be found in large rivers in deep, slow stretches close to strong currents.
5. Flathead catfish feed at night on almost anything like crustaceans, mollusks, and other fish like shad, bullheads, and carp.
6. Flatheads will ignore smelly and rotten baits or baits from the local fishing store like chicken entrails.
7. Flatheads are solitary; therefore, when you catch one adult in an area, don’t expect to find others there. Move to another area and fish for more flatheads.
8. Flatheads will become dormant and go into a hibernation stage when the water temperature drops below 45 degrees.
9. When you are fishing for trophy flatheads, focus on large rivers and lakes.
10. When you have a flathead hooked, don’t fight it with the reel. Instead, point the rod straight up, and allow the bend of the rod to tire the fish. Stand firm when the fish is fighting and when it eases it, lower your rod tip toward the water, reeling on the drop. Don’t over-apply pressure.
11. Make sure your drag is set at some point below the breaking strength of the line. When the flathead applies pressure, the drag will slip and give a line.
12. Bottom fishing using prepared or natural bait is another way to fish for flatheads.
13. Flatheads usually run straight to the rocks when they are hooked.
14. Flathead catfish like live bait.
The Bottom Line
Flathead catfish grow very large, are solitary, and are difficult to find and catch. Flatheads put up a hard fight when hooked. They like structures to hide in as they wait in an ambush for prey. Additionally, they feed at night and this is the best time to fish for flatheads.
In this article, we discussed the behaviors, fishing techniques, tips, and equipment needed to successfully catch flathead catfish. If you are interested in catching other fishes like bream, cod, blue catfish, channel catfish, and pollock, then read how to catch bream, how to catch cod, how to catch blue catfish, how to catch channel catfish, and how to catch pollock.