Can't catch a flathead catfish

Discussion in 'Flathead Catfish' started by reelking92, Jun 11, 2007.

  1. reelking92

    reelking92 New Member

    Messages:
    29
    State:
    MI
    My name is karen ward and i have been catfishing for three years and caught only one flathead while fishing for channel cats. I live on the st. joseph river in the lower part of michigan and its supposed to be great for flatheads. any tips to help me catch a good one?
     
  2. maddcatter

    maddcatter New Member

    Messages:
    614
    State:
    Newark, Oh
    What are you using for bait?
     

  3. GETHOOKED

    GETHOOKED New Member

    Messages:
    548
    State:
    Arizona, Scott
    fresh live bait, bluegills, carp, suckers, etc. Put them on a HEAVY line,1-2 oz wt, with a 1-3 foot leader, set your clicker and hold on. Best of luck
     
  4. reelking92

    reelking92 New Member

    Messages:
    29
    State:
    MI
    i've been using live bluegills up to 6 inches as well as small carp but i have never even got a solid strike.
     
  5. Polish Moose

    Polish Moose New Member

    Messages:
    54
    State:
    Illinois
    What kind of areas are available to fish on that river? Holes with adjacent flats, down timber, dams, etc. You might get lucky and hook into one occasionally by chance, but by finding specific areas that consistantly hold fish you can up your odds.
     
  6. pk_powell

    pk_powell New Member

    Messages:
    3,485
    State:
    Missouri
    Welcome to the BOC from Missouri! You are blessed that you have caught one I am a lady who has never had the privledge! Perhaps someday my luck will change,I certainly hope so! You will enjoy this place it is the most wonderful and safest place to be on the Web!! We are all family!!:smile2:
     
  7. reelking92

    reelking92 New Member

    Messages:
    29
    State:
    MI
    there are scattered lojams, many holes, some wtih shallow flats nearby. The entire river is only 4or 5 feet deep int the summer and even the deepest holes rarely exceed ten feet in depth.
     
  8. g.kempf

    g.kempf New Member

    Messages:
    34
    State:
    Iowa
    Sounds very similiar to the river's that I fish, I always have luck on a outside bend with cover. Just make sure that bait is lively and you will catch one.
     
  9. riverdawg-1

    riverdawg-1 New Member

    Messages:
    738
    State:
    salem, va
    Sound like you have the right bait and are fishing the right areas. Do you fish day or night? I have caught most of my Flatheads late at night.
    Chip
     
  10. wolfman

    wolfman Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    9,081
    State:
    Triadelphia, WV
    Name:
    Walter Flack
    Find the holes with the most structure, fish there early in the evening and then try shallow water near that hole later on after dark. Use live bait such as bluegills, creek chubs, suckers, bullheads, and goldfish if legal there.

    Talk to the local baitshop owners and anglers in your area to find where the good spots are that are holding good flathead populations.
     
  11. bilyjojimbob

    bilyjojimbob New Member

    Messages:
    227
    State:
    North Carolina
    How big are your hooks? And how long do you stay in one spot? It took me over a year to catch my first flattie where I fish. Sometimes its not what you are doing wrong, you just have to be patient and sooner or later they will find you. I only usually catch 3 or 4 big ones a year where I fish. Hope this helps
     
  12. cats gone wild

    cats gone wild Member

    Messages:
    452
    State:
    canal winchester, ohio
    In-Fisherman's 2006 Catfish In-Sider had an article about the seasonal movements of flatheads on the St. Joe river. The article states that flats on the St. Joe preferred complex log jams and water shallower that 9 ft. as a home base in the spring , summer and fall. You can probably go to their website and get the article. As far as bait I like bluegills beacause they are easy to catch and you will catch big flats with them. In a pinch I will use goldfish. The main thing you need is patience. Big flats don't bite every night.
     
  13. reelking92

    reelking92 New Member

    Messages:
    29
    State:
    MI
    i have read that article and have been a subscriber to in fisherman for years thats kinda what got me into trying to catch a big flathead.
     
  14. got one

    got one New Member

    Messages:
    29
    State:
    michigan
    welcome karen

    i'm also somewhat new to the group. here on the st. joe i've heard of people getting them around the berrien springs dam and off the north pier.

    i've caught one behind the court house on st. joe side. i've also hooked big fish when i was younger but could never land them. up to this last year i always thought they were huge carp.

    the cement company dredged a deep lane for the cement boat which jumps straight up into about 5-6' approx.

    and then there's sportsman park in st. joe which has a really deep hole which if i'm not mistaken is around 12-14' which is usually good for drifting walleyes also.

    i've also looked on the dnr list and i think there's a lake near three rivers which was stocked by them.

    oh i almost forgot, you can also fish in sodus off meadowbrook. right across the street from the trailer park a creek flows into the st joe. it's real deep and slowly comes up to a couple of feet with gravel bottom.

    my best advice would be have your rod secured in a pole holder. you won't even have a chance to grab it if one hits it and it's on a rock or on a y stick. they hit from out of nowhere and don't stop to swallow. it's definately unlike any other fish.
     
  15. massa_jorge

    massa_jorge New Member

    Messages:
    2,137
    State:
    TEXAS
    welcome to the boc!
    you have to be persistent in catching flatheads; you can go a while without catching one. i can anway! just keep at it with the live bait and eventually you will get into them!
     
  16. hanson

    hanson New Member

    Messages:
    94
    State:
    Plymouth, MN
    When talking flathead catfish, there are a few critical things to remember that will tip the odds in your favor.

    1- Bait
    2- Location
    3- Timing

    You have to get these right or you will struggle.

    Bait- You really have to fish live bait. In Minnesota, we use small bullheads (6-7") quite often. Suckers and Creek Chubs are good options too. Living in MI, you have the ability to use bluegills and I would suggest to keep using them. Sure wish they were legal here.

    Location- Some of the other posters have commented on location already. Wood/logjams are always good. Fish right in front of the wood or fish a shallow flat upstream from the wood. Flats move out at night to feed and will cruise these shallow areas for food. Don't overlook rock structures either, either natural or manmade (riprap, etc.) Rock holds bugs which attract bait which attracts flatheads looking to eat that bait. Sometimes if there are larger rocks in the area, flats will hide behind them just like they would a logjam.

    Timing- You have to be fishing at night. You can catch them during the day but its a different game. I would suggest finding success at night first before adjusting to the daytime bite.

    Good Luck!
     
  17. gcarlin

    gcarlin New Member

    Messages:
    1,353
    State:
    Richmond ,Indiana
    WELCOME TO THE BOC KAREN, LOT AF GOOD INFORMATION BEING THROWN OUT TO YOU. HOPE YOU CATCH THAT BIG ONE !
     
  18. river scum

    river scum New Member

    Messages:
    3,474
    State:
    hooterville indiana
    you can up your odds by going after a good rain or a rise in the river. creeks after a good rain will draw amazing numbers of flats. i have a friend that fishes steelies there alot, he gets a few flathead on cranks(hot n tots) set to work in the current behind the boat. anything that blocks current can hold a good fish. dont disregard fresh cut bait either, caught more last year on cut than live. i always start with both and let them tell me.
     
  19. bigfish08

    bigfish08 New Member

    Messages:
    375
    State:
    ohio
    every spot i fish on my home river has three things close by, some kind of shallow riffle, some kind of deep hole after the riffle and some kind of structure (mostly some kind of wood in the water). not sure what kind of river you fish, since every river is a little bit different you have to figure out your own river, look for these three things together and you definatley have yourself a decent flathead spot.... i wish you the best of luck!!
     
  20. s_man

    s_man New Member

    Messages:
    3,012
    State:
    south east ohio
    Karen the best tip is to use live baits. Don't limit yourself to 5 inch gills. Try to catch larger fish from the river. Baby carp, suckers, bullheads, or small channels too. If you can use so called gamefish like small and largemouth bass, crappies they work very well, they fight harder and live longer than gills. The main thing is to use the biggest baits you can catch. Small flats 5 to 6 lbs are just starting to eat fish. If you use primarily small baits you will catch more of them. Bigger baits keep them off it long enough for a 20 or 30 to find your bait lol. If you are bank bound the best place to try is a lowhead dam. I don't know if you have any on your river but they hold fish. They also have the downside of timing, the fish will be under them for a couple days then you can fish every day for 2 weeks and not get a hit. If you can get along fairly well on the bank keep checking out spots with wood laying along the bank. It doesn't have to be a bend hole to hold flats. I catch most of mine in 5ft or less of water. The biggest thing about finding fish in rivers other than at the dams is to fish closer to the bank. If you can find a stretch with wood all along it, set up in the middle of it and put your baits close to the bank. The flats prowl the shoreline looking for baitfish that don't feel safe out in the middle of the river after dark. You will have better luck fishing from dusk till morning. There will be a lull around midnight till 2 or so, but it will pick back up after that.