Chattahoochee Flatheads

Discussion in 'Outdoor Articles' started by Fishmaster1203, Dec 28, 2008.

  1. Fishmaster1203

    Fishmaster1203 New Member

    There was a time not that long ago that there were no flatheads in the Chattahoochee River above West Point Lake in Georgia. If you went catfishing, you were going after channel cats or maybe the occasional blue cat. West Point has always been a great lake for catching a mess of channel cats, but up until recently, flatheads were unheard of. If you wanted to catch a big flathead, you had to take a trip to the Altamaha River or Clarks Hill Lake, both of which have produced Georgia state record flatties.

    Not any more. Flatheads have invaded the northern part of West Point Lake and the Chattahoochee River above West Point. How they got into this body of water is anybody's guess, but they are here now and getting bigger every day. They apparently like their new home because they have been spreading all the way up the Chattahoochee River to Atlanta. There is approximately sixty miles of river between West Point Lake and the Morgan Falls dam near Atlanta.

    I have been guiding fishing trips on West Point lake for the past eighteen years for largemouth and spotted bass, striped and hybrid bass and also crappie. For the most part, none of my clients were interested in going after catfish, but now everything is changing. It seems that there are a lot more people that are interested in going catfishing now that we have a good and growing population of flatheads. As a matter of fact, this past season I probably got at least fifty calls from people wanting to go after flatheads. It's becoming so popular that I have had to buy new rods and reels just for flathead fishing!

    The first time I took serious notice of the flatheads in West Point Lake on the Georgia/Alabama border was three or four years ago when my clients began hooking up with them while fishing live shad for stripers and hybrids during their spring run up the Chattahoochee River. In an area historically devoid of flatheads, my clients started putting fish in the boat in the 10 to 20 pound range. That caught my eye. But it wasn’t until about two years ago that I started seriously targeting flatheads. Since then we have hauled in some pretty good fish.

    When it comes to flatheads, a 20 pounder is not necessarily a monster. The state record, caught out of the Altamaha River by Carl Sawyer in 2006, weighed 83 pounds. But for most fishermen a 20 pounder is certainly a respectable fish, and my clients have now caught quite a few flatheads up to 30 pounds over the last two years. Keep in mind, flatheads on West Point Lake and up the Chattahoochee River are a relatively new development. They are native to many Georgia drainages, but small ones first started showing up on West Point Lake in biologist’s sampling nets in 1998. Since then the size and frequency of catches has increased. I'm pretty sure there are flatheads in the river that are now pushing 40 pounds and getting bigger every day!

    I talked with a Georgia D.N.R. biologist recently and he informed me that the state has no plans to try to remove any flatheads from West Point Lake or the Chattahoochee River north of West Point Lake at this time. That was very good news because I think we are really close to having a tremendous flathead fishery within an hour from Atlanta. Who knows, maybe one day a new state record will come from the Chattahoochee River. Long live the flathead catfish!

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