5 Things a Beginner Flathead Fisherman Needs To Know.

Discussion in 'Catfishing Library' started by catfishrollo, Dec 13, 2007.

  1. catfishrollo

    catfishrollo New Member

    Messages:
    6,894
    State:
    Ohio
    FIVE THINGS THAT A FISHERMAN NEW TO FLATHEADS NEEDS TO KNOW!!!

    1. For the most part flatheads are nocturnal, meaning they feed after dark!

    2. Flatheads for the most part only feed on livebait, such as fish like shad, bluegills, carp, bass etc. my suggestion would be consider what is indigenous to your waters that the cats are in, and try to get some of them baits.

    3. You need to have a decent outfit with atleast a med/hev. rod that can handle line up to 20-30lb. rod pref. over 6' in length. with a reel that is capable of holding around 100yrds. of 20-30lb. mono. if spinning rod/reel...you can learn to use the drag on the top for a baitclicker, if it isn't a baitrunner reel with both.. if using a baitcast type reel i would suggest buying one with a baitclicker/ fighting drag..... doesn't have to be expensive for a starter...remember...you are learning and need an outfit that will work.. Wal-Mart has these for less than 60 bucks for the whole combo!!!

    4. 20-30/lb. line of decent quality like Berkely Big Game.. even 40lb. line if mono.. i wouldn't suggest a braid until you learn the wrath of these creatures. use the added stretch to your advantage! you may need the extra second for error!! lol.. try 5-10/0 hooks. either in j-style, or kahle!! no circles yet... you need to learn how they hit!! the j-style is what i still use they work great!! . i suggest gamukatsu j-style octupus hooks around 8/0 or 9/0.. sinkers 2-5 oz. either flat or egg work fine...you can rig simply by adding the sinker, a bead, then the hook allowing the sinker to slide to the hook... flatheads aren't shy and will gladly grab the whole rig and bait without thought!!

    5. talk to locals, fish rivers that have an abundant amount of flatheads, then
    fish basic until you start understanding them more..fish only obvious spots that look good to hold catfish, such as eddy holes, defined inside bends or outside bends, or other holes that have current close to them. most likely there is a flathead nearby.... use the livebait hooked either through the lip, back under the dorsel, or through the tail, cast out, set the reel either in clicker mode, or some type of free-spool, and wait for that big flattie to start running your line.. tighten down, feel the consistent pull and set and fight!!!! remember to adjust the drag if needed!!!

    and a added number 6.

    6. take pride and enjoy your expeience, but remember....a few small fish are fine to eat!!! but a picture of your catch is worth as much as the story behind it!!!!


    I know this is different, but i think, and know there is alot of tenative members on here that don't ask questions because they are affraid to.. So, i thought i would try a simple informative thread to help those that have basic learning questions about catfishing ...i hope everyone adds to this to give some basic, but helpful info. so more can learn and enjoy our sport....goodluck, rollo
     
  2. catfishrollo

    catfishrollo New Member

    Messages:
    6,894
    State:
    Ohio
    thanks everyone so far for your input...makes me feel like im not posting things that aren't worth posting... i just know that i spent many nights, days, on end racking my brain and wishing i could catch fish i saw others catch when i was young. hoping someday i would get lucky....well, luck takes you so far...and learning takes time also...and like said earlier i have talked to many people on here and in person, and they sometimes act tenative to answer questions you may ask them or don't get too involved. i have met a few from here that have expressed that also. i just want everyone to feel like they can learn from asking and learn the basic of the techniques without too much complication.. we often get tied up on here talking specifics soo much in detail. we almost make it complicated on ourselves!!! remember... there is so much to learn, and we will never know everything.. but , you have to keep it in persective and have fun while learning.....rollo
     

  3. s_man

    s_man New Member

    Messages:
    3,012
    State:
    south east ohio
    Mark, that's one of the things I just don't understand. On the GMR you guys all catch larger flatheads on cut baits, while over here we do much better with live. I also had a guide in Cincy that swore up and down, cut bait (shad) is how he and his clients catch Ohio river flatheads. But then again Matt caught a 68lb flat down there on a live gill I think. Sometimes up here they won't hit a live bait and want one of Rollo's gill heads or a half a shad. But thats only occasional. And doesn't Flathunter catch big fish on cut bait on the Scioto too? I would love to figure out if it's a river system thing, or a time of season thing, or even a lucky catch thing. Just what the heck is going on LOL.
     
  4. catfishrollo

    catfishrollo New Member

    Messages:
    6,894
    State:
    Ohio
    It could be the difference in rivers, and sections for that matter. Me and skip have discussed many sections of the muskingum river for example. every section is different from the next it seems like. Not, just in structure and water depths. But, in how these fish react. for example, it is not uncommon for me to have multiple fish nights... i have caught 12, 13 flatheads in one night many of times... last summer i had one night in a tournament we caught 21 fish... i think 11 of them were flats.. now the bigger fish are far and few between.. alot of fish between 4-15 pounds though.. Now, skips section quantity numbers like that are unheard of...if they catch 4 or 5 fish in a nights time atleast 2 or 3 of them are usually dandies!! why is this? is it the deeper water compared to the shallower habitats i fish? i dunno? its all the same river...you wouldn't think a dam or two could change the system that much, but let me tell you if i shown you a picture of the area skip roams in, and then one where i do...you would swear they were different rivers...rollo
     
  5. catfishrollo

    catfishrollo New Member

    Messages:
    6,894
    State:
    Ohio
    well, for the purpose of this thread, im gonna say i find it hard to tell a beginner he should use cutbait to target flatheads, esp. someone that is just learning. he or she would probably get tired of them channels.. i agree with all the posts on here, but in perspective of telling someone that knows nothing about flathead fishing, i don't feel directing them toward cutbait is the thing to do... yes, flatheads will hit gill-heads, cut shad, or any other fresh cuts at that...But, they usually do prefer livebait over deadbait. and chances are on most waters, those using livebait after dark are gonna tangle with a flathead, before someone throwing dead cuts out.. rollo
     
  6. s_man

    s_man New Member

    Messages:
    3,012
    State:
    south east ohio
    This is true guys, to start off with you should use live baits. They are the most frequently used bait for flatheads. All the books and videos say so. You will never be able to target flatheads untill you start catching some. Once you find areas that they use then you can start changing up your baits to match what the fish want. It really comes back to the experience factor, if you put in your time on the water, and always experiment with baits, tactics, locations, structures...etc. After a couple years you will have gained more knowledge of your fish and how they operate than all the stuff you read on here. This is just a guideline, a little info from many different experiences, strategies, personalities... You just have to take it all in and form your own ideas. We just write about what we know and have experienced while catfishing. It's up to you to make it work on your waters.
     
  7. Salmonid

    Salmonid New Member

    Messages:
    1,833
    State:
    SW Ohio
    Just playing the devils advocate here, as a beginner, finding good quality live bait is hard to do. It was always easier for me to catch bluegills ahead of time and freeze them, I might add that as a beginner, goldfish are available but mighty costly which is why I used alot of bluegill heads.... Just my .02

    The majority of the time we are fishing for flats, we are using both live and cut bait and it may just be luck on our end, who knows. Plus it might make a difference what live baits we are using, big gills, green sunfish, rock bass, goldies, suckers, carp, bullheads, chubs, live shad, just depends what is available. Of course once they die, nothing goes to waste and we always fight over the "head" piece.

    As far as different sections of the river holding less bigger/more smaller fish, we too have noticed some pools hold bigger fish while other pools are loaded with runts. The bigger fish ( IMHO) seem to come from natural river pools vs the dammed up pools. Mother nature can make better habitat then we can.

    Salmonid
     
  8. s_man

    s_man New Member

    Messages:
    3,012
    State:
    south east ohio
    Salmonid, I spend almost as much time trying to find and catch suitable bait, as I do catfishing. I started out getting goldfish at the baitshop after work too, but it can get expensive if you go more than once a week and you need enough bait for two guys. I always ended up seeding the river when I left in the morning lol. The last few years I have been using alot of bait right from the river, that I catch on a rod and reel. I can spend 4 to 8 hours some days in the summer just to have enough to go. I really think having good lively bait from the water I intend to fish gives me an edge over pond or store bought baits. I would always recommend trying both live and cut at the same time if you want to see what they want to feed on. Plus with cut bait you just might latch onto a big channel while waiting for flats.
     
  9. catfishrollo

    catfishrollo New Member

    Messages:
    6,894
    State:
    Ohio
    i get a majority of my bait from feeder creeks. chubs, green sunfish, warmouth, and bullheads. i like catching them from creeks and small streams. seems as if they are a more wild bait than pond fish.... don't forget about the smallmouth though.. probably one of my most fav. of baits..:wink:..rollo
     
  10. flathunter

    flathunter New Member

    Messages:
    5,723
    State:
    Ohio
    There is some good info here...Now on the cut bait thing, all my flatheads come on cut shad, now these are river fish I dont fish lakes.

    And 90 percent of my bigger flatheads come in the daytime between 4-6pm...

    I like to fish deep slack water areas in the daytime, at night I usually fish shallow sandbars adjacent to deep water.

    I have also caught more bigger flatheads on small bait example a 2 inch piece of cut shad...I know most of this goes aginst the grain, and a half dozen years ago I would laugh at someone who fishes flatheads this way but it works for me.
     
  11. catfishrollo

    catfishrollo New Member

    Messages:
    6,894
    State:
    Ohio
    you can't be affraid to ask questions. alot of the learning process has to with you spending time on the water, and learning from many of bad nights, its kinda like a big puzzle, you have to try many different pieces before it comes together right.. but talking, and asking when you you have questions will help you gain the knowledge, and you will be catching fish quicker.. like said before, everyone has their own opinions and styles. find out what works for you and build off of it. i just wanted to give a few simple tidbits, that may save some many of long hours before that first catch..goodluck...rollo
     
  12. BKS72

    BKS72 New Member

    Messages:
    3,361
    State:
    East of KC
    I'm still a beginner to flatheads but one thing I've noticed after catching several 2 and 3 pound flats on 6 and 7 inch live shad is that they're AMBITIOUS:smile2: If they're hungry and think they can get it in their mouth, they're going for it. I'll never be a good flat fisherman, though, because the silly things never do what I think they should.:confused2: I've caught several where they "should" have been - brushpiles in relatively slack water on decent sized live bait, but my biggest was a 45# on the current side of a wing dam on a small piece of cut shad fishing for blues. Total fluke and I about started laughing when I finally got him up and saw he was a flat.

    Anyway, thanks for this thread, I know I'm in MO, but most of our posts are about blues - when I want flathead info I scope out the OH thread:smile2:
     
  13. catcrazed

    catcrazed New Member

    Messages:
    575
    State:
    ohio
    Im with BKS72! I have fished where the flats oughta be. read books about'em and evan bought videos. never seem to do very good but one day I was fishing for spring time channels with small circle hooks and very small peices of cut shad and whammo! Never seen a pole bent over quite like that. like BKS72 said, I was in very strong current when I caught it and it wasnt on live bait either. The way i see it is, I either caught a retard, or just got downright lucky. The fish was 41lbs and use to be my avatar pic for a while. On What rollo said, yeah sometimes fishing with circles you wait for the pole to go down, but many times have I started to leave and when i start realling up my line it is limp all the way to the boat and almost every time it is a small flatty that has picked up the bait and run up river. We hardly ever have blues do that.
     
  14. s_man

    s_man New Member

    Messages:
    3,012
    State:
    south east ohio
    Brandon,Robin,-- When you caught those big flats, you learned something. They weren't FLUKES, the fish were there for a reason. If you could duplicate those conditions, I bet you could catch a couple more. The things you read about "preferred" habitat is just that. A place were you have a better than 30% chance of catching one. Not that you can catch one every time you fish there. Once you start catching the smaller ones, in preferred areas on a regular basis, then you can start to refine your approach and/or technique. You can read all day about log jams, or wing dams. Yea, they hold fish some of the time. Just not all of the time. We put that info out so you can start to catch fish every or every other time you go out. They aren't all gonna be big. But you have to have a baseline of what they like, and how they act before you'll ever get consistant. I know this sounds harsh, but I spent over 2 years fishing these same obvious structures before I caught one over 20lbs. Slowly I caught on to where the larger fish were. It all boils down to time on the water. If you put it in you will be rewarded.
     
  15. ahab

    ahab New Member

    Messages:
    31
    State:
    texas
    I am another confused beginner ( from TX) and my question is can Flatheads be caught in creeks?, or near the entrances to lakes/reservoirs? There doesn't seem to be any large navigable rivers like all of you guys have in Ohio and upper Midwest ( I am envious:tounge_out: ) just lots of feeder creeks that feed into our reservoirs. On the dam ends we have medium to small tailraces that sometimes run fast depending on the rainfall but mostly slow and meander into the lower creeks. All of them have plenty of cover and depth. How about the reservoir itself?
    There is also plenty of baitfish present but the areas areas are small and concentrated. Please help Thanks!
     
  16. s_man

    s_man New Member

    Messages:
    3,012
    State:
    south east ohio
    Chuck, Those creeks are your rivers, if you can reach the first deep hole up river/creek with your boat , or on the bank. (It will most likely be in a sharp bend, with lots of wood piled up on the bank). If you toss a bait into that mess you will hook one. LOL
    Then you have to see if you have the equipment to pull one out.

    Any CREEK feeding into a lake or resi is the same as a river. Target the channel or the structure, at the right times of the year. You'll have no problem.
     
  17. ahab

    ahab New Member

    Messages:
    31
    State:
    texas
    If you toss a bait into that mess you will hook one. LOL
    Then you have to see if you have the equipment to pull one out.


    Thanks Skip!, that's kinda what I am thinking. I am use an MH rod(American Spirit) with Penn 209 w/30# mono (Berkeley Big Cat). I am not real sure of the hook size and type but thinking of trying Kahle hooks for a change with small silver dollar size blue gills commonly found in the creeks -(man they are gritty and nervous!) Would a 6/0 be too small? Also, I was considering the use of a float fished 4' to 6' deep. Sound right?
     
  18. s_man

    s_man New Member

    Messages:
    3,012
    State:
    south east ohio
    Chuck, I use 10/0 Gammaktsu Octopus hooks for all my flathead fishing. I also try to use the LARGEST baits I can catch to put on said hooks. 6 to 9 inch gills, 12 to 16 inch largemouth/smallmouth, 12 inch crappie, 15 inch suckers...ETC

    I once caught a 25lb flathead on a 4lb drum. So please do not be afraid of large baits. I have caught 2lb flatheads on 1lb bass. They cannot even hook themselves cause the bait is the same length they are.

    All I'm saying is go big on hooks and bait. If you fail to hook up with a 10inch bait, the fish was a minnie lol. Stop thinking like a beginner, Big fish want big meals. Those meals need big hooks. Just give it a try this year, if only half the time. Then let me know who's method worked better mine, or the one you are using now, deal?
     
  19. catfishrollo

    catfishrollo New Member

    Messages:
    6,894
    State:
    Ohio
    big baits do mean big fish!!! I fish a variety for the reason most of the time i need to catch numbers in a 8 hour tournament.. I rarely ever weigh in less than 5 and most of the time, most of the time catching 7-12 in a nights time... If you are wanting to catch only quality fish use big baits, if you are wanting to catch fish, use smaller ones as well...rollo
     
  20. catfishrollo

    catfishrollo New Member

    Messages:
    6,894
    State:
    Ohio
    chuck, if you aren't concerned about catching, but possibly one or two fish the entire year, make sure you go to an impoundment that is known for holding monster flats, big gills are fine, but i would up the anny alittle more and use baits only over 12 inches.. it doesn't happen often, but i have had 10 pound range fish try to eat big gills etc.. i would use 2 pound carp or 2-3 pound bass etc. weed out some more of them smaller to med. size fish by doing so...and get ready for the big bite!!! big baits give off more noise, you can never go to big bro...lol....rollo