How Do You Catch Flathead Catfish?
Location, Location, Location
The first thing to do, when you are looking to get a hook into one of these large whiskered fish, is to find suitable habitat for these bruisers. Flathead catfish tend to be the biggest predator in their own environments. Weighing up to 100 pounds, these bruisers are always looking for their next meal.
Structure and current are the two main things to look for when targeting a flathead catfish, and it's not all the same from lake to river. In a river environment, you may find the fish below wingdams, under a log jam, underneath large rocky undercut banks, or anywhere that there is a small current break: a place where fish can quickly transition from their hiding spots to where they can ambush their prey.
In a lake or reservoir, finding a flathead catfish might pose a bit more of a challenge. While current is still very relevant, as is access to their food source, flatheads tend to congregate near rocky outcroppings such as dams or causeways. As with most predatory fish, quick access to baitfish, especially if they are able to hide and ambush their prey, are most important. Deep holes or old roadbeds are great areas, especially if they are known structure for holding baitfish. River channels subverted by rock reefs and long-standing beaver dams are great as well, as these apex predators are not too picky.
What Do I Use to Catch a Flathead?
The key to flatheads is live bait. They are predators, preferring their meals to be live, unlike their scavenger cousins the channel catfish.
When talking about live bait, but we are not talking minnows or worms. While many fine fish have been taken on these offerings, these behemoths of the depths tend to feed on larger offerings. Bluegill, goldfish, bullhead, carp, chubs, and various other rough fish tend to make the best bait.
Before you take off to the nearest pet store to stock up on goldfish, make sure to check your local regulations and make sure it is legal before venturing out and making a costly mistake.
When it comes to rod choice, I personally prefer the Ugly Stik Catfish line of rods. Strong, durable and able to withstand the raw power of these fish, these poles can take a beating and keep on catching. Rods in the 7-9ft range tend to be preferred when fishing from shore as the added length gives you a better casting distance and more power to steer the flathead away from cover.
As for hook choices, circle hooks 6-10/0 are the way to go. Because these fish take many years to reach these sizes, its important to take as much care as possible with a flathead catfish that is not headed to the dinner table. Circle hooks are best for this, as they almost always catch fish in the side of the mouth. Simply let your rod load up with tension from the fish and just a couple cranks of the reel and you are set for one heck of fight!
For a main line, I prefer to use a superline like Power Pro. The smallest test I would ever use is 30, and that's in a lake or reservoir environment. Zero stretch and ultra-thin diameter make this line my go-to for this style of fishing. A flathead can make a reel-burning run taking out line at break-kneck speed, the thin line slicing through any debris like a razor.
More on Catfish: Channel Cats
- Late Summer Channel Cats
The days are long and hot, the water's hot, the grease is hot, and the sun's rays cling to you like that weird kid from 8th grade. Its prime catfishing time across the country and I'm going to share some tips with you on how to maximize your success