Flathead Catfish and riffles

Discussion in 'Flathead Catfish' started by loanwizard, Nov 16, 2007.

  1. loanwizard

    loanwizard Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    3,297
    State:
    Coshocton,
    Catcaller (Brian) has mentioned riffles several times and I was wondering if it is a local, regional, or national, way for flatties to act.

    1. How many of you from different states have caught flatheads in the riffles?


    2. How many of you actively fish riffles for Flatheads?


    3. Do you wade, set up on shore, or anchor.


    4. If you anchor how the heck do you hold position.


    5. How many of you go to the riffles FIRST?


    6. What do you consider a riffle? (1", 6",12",2 ')


    I think that's enough for now. I hope this thread get's some input.
     
  2. river scum

    river scum New Member

    Messages:
    3,474
    State:
    hooterville indiana
    i have keyed in on riffles a time or two but not often. i seam to hit them in the nighttime more than day. the flathead are known to cruise shallows, hunting after dark. interesting thread ill be watching and learning.
     

  3. Dadoftwo

    Dadoftwo New Member

    Messages:
    382
    State:
    Oklahoma City
    When I night fish I try to use the riffs to my advantage with a slip rig and no weight at the bait. This has worked well for me lately.
     
  4. loanwizard

    loanwizard Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    3,297
    State:
    Coshocton,
    In a river there are three parts. The riffle is the shallow water that has the fastest current. It flows into the hole, which is the deepest part of the river. This hole turns into a run, which is the avg depth stretch of river before the next riffle, or rapids.

    We mostly begin our careers somewhere in a run. We think that flaheads stay in deep holes during the day. They come shallow to feed, I've been told in the riffles.

    How do to place your boat and anchor to take advantage of this area?
     
  5. AwShucks

    AwShucks New Member

    Messages:
    4,532
    State:
    Guthrie, Oklaho
    Think you have it right, Shawn. I usually boat to the riffles, then fish from the bank. When the cats come in, it sounds like a submarine or ocean liner thats been beached. If your not expecting it, it will make you put a load in your britches. I like live bait fished with just a minimal amount of bait, in the slack water off the riffles. I don't walk around as I believe they can feel vibrations, and I don't use any lights as I don't think the racoon's or deer normally on the banks use lights either. They are spooky in shallow water.
     
  6. s_man

    s_man New Member

    Messages:
    3,012
    State:
    south east ohio
    Shawn, I haven't targeted riffles but a few times. Twice below the dam at Philo, its real shallow there 2 to 4 ft. But I have always caught flatheads there, the largest was a 20 lber on a baby channel for bait. I have been up at Ellis when some guys on the bank just down from the dam in the faster current were catching 20 and 30 pounders every night for the week they camped there. They were fishing 2 to 3 ft of fast water, and told me that the fish came thru every night between 2 and 4 am.
    I have also read reports from a Jesuit Priest that came thru Ohio,Michigan, and Indianna in the 1600's. He stated that the "natives" would span the riffles and spear catfish that would measure 24 inches between the eyes. So to tell you yea or nay on riffles. I'd lean toward the YEA. If they did it back then, they are doing it now.
     
  7. poisonpits

    poisonpits Well-Known Member Supporting Member

    Messages:
    9,789
    State:
    arkansas
    Name:
    johnnie
    just to clear the waters a little bit what they are calling riffles is what we call shoals or rapids.i do my best fishing just below not directly in the real fast waters.only exception is when the river is on the rise or flood stage.i catch most of my bigger fish then and thats fishing the edges of the fast water.
     
  8. loanwizard

    loanwizard Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    3,297
    State:
    Coshocton,
    Thanks. I am not talking about directly below a lowhead dam. I run a jet for a reason. A riffle to me goes from about 6 inches of water to 2 feet. Where it deepens, I call the head of the hole, the deepest is in the hole, as it shallows out I call the tail of the hole, and the steady straight section is the run.

    100 feet below a dam I call the dam area (more on the big rivers.
     
  9. catfishrollo

    catfishrollo New Member

    Messages:
    6,894
    State:
    Ohio
    i know what you are meaning shawn. i have caught flats below riffles, and the best advice i can give you is consider what holes and the section of river below each riffle to help determine which riffle area may be better to fish. take 3 seperate sections of riffles, holes and runs... which section has the best stucture,,hole characterisics for numbers of flats, or channels...and maybe even consider the run and how far it is from the hole. don't waste your time on every riffle area..fish the ones that should be productive. I like to setup just below the riffle where the current is still associated with the shallows, but not a fight for the fish to stay there. they seem to move in and out to feed. goodluck...rollo
     
  10. Blacky

    Blacky New Member

    Messages:
    10,351
    State:
    Philadelphia, P
    Stupid question, but what's a riffle?

    Can someone explain it to me?
     
  11. loanwizard

    loanwizard Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    3,297
    State:
    Coshocton,
    Read post #8 & #9

    Shallow water that runs over hard bottom, that flows into deeper water, in a river system.

    Look at a small creek. You know where you find the bait? In the deepest area of the creek. That would be the hole. Below the hole is the normal creekbed that you can wade through. Above the hole or at the bottom of the run is a gravel area where the water runs shallower and thus faster.

    It is caused by different bottom. A hole is carved out because the water coming into it is moving faster due to a hard bottom resistent to the power of the water coming through. The hole has a softer subtrate that the water gouges out due to iit's speed, giving it power to wash softer substance away. Really deep holes have an obstacle or a curve that keeps the water current heavier kind of like the irresistible force meeting the immovable object.
    The run is the regular stretch of river, averag depth average current until it hits the next gravel bed, narrow stretch, or elevation change which causes the riffle, shoal, rapids, etc...

    Hope this helps.
     
  12. Catcaller

    Catcaller New Member

    Messages:
    1,511
    State:
    SoutheastKansas
    All right! This is my absolute favorite subject...hands down...bar none.

    My fishing career is based on fishing riffles...the section of the Neosho River that I primarily fish is downstream of the low water dam at Chetopa, Kansas.

    My fishing partners and I constantly refine our technique...as the river itself changes every year...as do our methods constantly evolve. (An excellent tool...I have mentioned this before...and I can't stress it enough...keep a journal.)

    Sometimes we fish the riffles directly below the dam....but there are more...which actually are a series of riffles...divided by deeper water. (in terms of this part of the Neosho...10' is as deep as you'll find in this section.)

    The best riffle is downstream about 3-4 miles by boat. An old Grist mill was located there back in the 1800's.

    The water goes from an average of 3-5' immediately above the riffle...to an average of 1-2' for the length of the 3 mile long riffle...and then at the end of which it drops back into "deeper" water.

    True...the bottom or the tail of the riffle is a great place to fish....many people automatically assume by default that should be the coveted "honeyhole".

    But hold the phone...we have ALWAYS done better in the holes that are strewn all about...pocking the area...each one having a different depth...and the current breaks...such as rock piles and such...at the HEAD of the riffle.

    Find structure within structure...and the fish line up waiting to get into such a place.

    These are what you should be seeking....that submerged waterlogged tree lying over holes in the riverbed...a submerged rockpile inside a large hole...an undercut bank on an inside bend of the river...anything that offers BOTH a current break AND concealment for an ambush.

    We'll typically run the boat downstream, and anchor with our homeade rail iron anchors about 50-100 yards above the riffle. (Approximately 40 lb apiece with rebar hooks welded onto the end of it. We'll usually just use one to hook up...it usually hooks right up in the ample supply of rip rap and boulders...but in faster current...well add a second 20 or 30 lb piece of rail...and that ALWAYS works. Another key element of hooking up in current is to use a long piece of anchor cord. We'll let out a little bit of cord at a time as we drift our baits downstream with the current....and then slide down when we don't get anything on 2 or 3 consecutive drifts. We use a 150' 1/2" cord with quick release hooks on each end...as well as a float on the boat end of the cord just in case we have to release and chase a larger fish downstream...or perhaps escape an incoming log or tree thats floating downstream in the current...allowing you to come right back to where you were when you released...and hook back up to your anchor...no more guesswork)

    When we anchor...as long as the water levels aren't too high...we'll get out and wade fish...which allows you to manuever your bait precisely where you want to due to the fact that you are now much more mobile.

    It's a reliable and productive method...and convenient as well...you get to move around with a minimum of extras weighing you down......yet you have your base where you can keep your necessarys.

    This way...you can keep your main supply of bait lively with an aereator...or your dead bait cold...and you also have your takle box right there in the anchored boat...which you can also tie your stringer to instead of lugging that heavy thing around (my stringer gets SO heavy...lol)...as well as a cooler full of ice cold refreshments and sandwiches, ect. :wink:

    Here's a couple of related posts I made in a thread called "River Fishing" a couple of years ago that outlines the "drift fishing" references I made earlier.


    http://www.catfish1.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1297
     
  13. loanwizard

    loanwizard Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    3,297
    State:
    Coshocton,
    Thank you for that Brian. I have a certain stretch of river that is like that, and I used to use that method for channels (a slight variation with livers from a boat) I am thinking of a variation of that technique for Flatheads.
     
  14. s_man

    s_man New Member

    Messages:
    3,012
    State:
    south east ohio
    Like I said earlier, I have read about fishing Flatheads in riffles, just not done it much. All the times I fished riffles they were directly below a lowhead dam. Sometimes I caught flats in less than 3ft of water. But this was whitewater coming past or around an island of gravel. It seemed like the flatheads would position themselves at the back of a centerstream island where the current was less. It was still fast, just less than if they moved 10ft to the right or left, you know? They waited till they "heard my bait" out in the fast water, or they rested in the slack and ventured out into the fast water in search of food. I have done it so infrequently I can't say for sure why I caught them there. I'm just saying I have done it, and you can do it too if you choose. Let me know if it works for you.
     
  15. Catcaller

    Catcaller New Member

    Messages:
    1,511
    State:
    SoutheastKansas
    I have caught flathead and blues by drifting small (2-3") black perch rigged weightless in the riffles by night and have done very well doing so.

    But not so many flathead during the daylight hours. The blues and channel will tend to stay in the main river and find current breaks...so they are still susceptable to being caught...but the flathead typically "hole" up around heavy cover geared more toward the rivers edge during the daylight.

    I catch flathead during the day by anchoring close to structure and rigging Carolina or a slip float rig to probe the really gnarly stuff like root balls, log jams, and brushpiles.

    Up by the spillway is a prime location due to the dam itself being a natural barrier to the fish moving upstream....therby concentrating flathead.

    We fish the rock piles there with a no roll carolina rigged perch and do quite well...although it is a game of patience and persistence.
     
  16. Catcaller

    Catcaller New Member

    Messages:
    1,511
    State:
    SoutheastKansas
    I too have had success when fishing around the backsides of islands....and natural wing dams as well. (Both are present in the 3 mile long riffle I spoke of in a previous post.)

    The scour holes formed from constant current, and high water behind them tend to provide a decent current break (Especially so if there are large rocks present to provide further relief from the current and added concealment opportunities)...and what easier way for a big ol' lazy flathead to sit and wait for dinner to bounce off its nose.

    That being said...once again night time has traditionally been the right time for that method in my experience.

    There are exceptions of course...but it seems to be the rule.
     
  17. primitive

    primitive Member

    Messages:
    262
    State:
    Dav. Ia.
    This is a real treat, GOOD FISHERMEN giving GOOD information for all to learn. That's why I am on this board. Thanks again fellows.
     
  18. s_man

    s_man New Member

    Messages:
    3,012
    State:
    south east ohio
    This is a great thread guys. Lots of good fishermen giving first rate info here. Its great to see and read. I always try to tell people to slow down and look for the structure within the structure when fishing the holes and runs of a river. I don't know why I hadn't thought to apply that to riffles before now lol. You guys opened my eyes to some very interesting possibilities that I have been overlooking when I can't find flats in their usual haunts. And like has been stated before, "If you want to know something, ASK"
    I have been reading stuff on here since the beginning and this is the first time I have seen this much on this topic. I didn't think to ask the question. But you all can see if you ask the right questions you will get the right answers. That goes for all of our new members and old members alike. I love this place lol.
     
  19. loanwizard

    loanwizard Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    3,297
    State:
    Coshocton,
    My intent is to use this information and tactics during 3 specific time periods next year to test it on my river system. I plan to try it in the spring, when during high water these holes in the riffles become high speed buffet lines, and when the water recedes seeing as we always seem to catch creek chubs, suckers, and smallmouth in these waters. If we know it, don't the predators? That coupled with the fact that fish head upstream in spring, give way to the theory that the farthest upstream they can get is an obstruction whether that be a dam or a riffle. I also want to try it post spawn because of the oxygenation. Finally I want to try it in the daytime. It is accepted knowlege that Flatheads go deep in the daylight or lay next to a log. I am trying to find the next layer of cover which would be a hump, or an obstruction which breaks current. I want to try the theory that the biggest baddest most aggressive cats want the easiest life. If they can lay behind a rock so they work less, catch food disoriented by the speed of the water with a flip of the tail and retreat to the safety of the same cover, have all the oxygen they need, regardless of daytime temps, have less competition for the food source (only so much room behind that rock, or stump)....

    Well, that is where I want to try. I have caught fish in my life, now I want to hone my skills to find the big boys. I also plan to use my trolling motor more this coming season. The bass boys perfected a technique called "flipping" where they throw that bait in the worst cover with stout equipment and short line to pinpoint place their bait in fron of a fish and whether active or not, tease it into striking. Somehow the thought of a 40,50, or 60 lb fish inhaling your bait in structure with less than 10 feet of line between it and me sounds breathtaking. I also think that for this method, just to minimize snags that cutbait will be the way to go.

    Any thoughts?

    Thanks.
     
  20. Catcaller

    Catcaller New Member

    Messages:
    1,511
    State:
    SoutheastKansas
    A heavy flathead on a short leash is quite the spectacle.

    Usually there is an initial head shake...along with a back and forth run amongst whatever gnarly cover is available to try to saw your line in half.

    Typically the next step is for them to leave the cover and attempt to utilize the current to get loose.

    After a brief struggle...and if they're not successful at shaking you by then...they'll sometimes plant themselves on the bottom...and attempt to wait you out.

    This is when you find out what you're made of.

    A 50 lb flat can and will stay put for upwards of an hour in some cases.

    I watched a guy one day with a Med Hvy rod and 17 lb test standoff with what turned out to be a 47 lb flat one morning.

    He hooked it at 9 am...and successfully landed it 90 minutes later, because he was cautious and patient enough to not be tempted to try to horse the fish up off the bottom of the not even 5 ft deep pool right next to the dam.

    When they finally break loose from the bottom...they will "walk the dog" back and forth by the boat.

    Try really hard to steer them away from the anchor ropes and your stringer...because those are favorite last ditch efforts.

    Don't show her the net either...not until you have a good shot at the fish.

    I've seen more than one second or third wind kick in when the net is in the water too early.

    For some reason they remember those nets. :wink: