Flathead catfish baits for National Park

Discussion in 'Flathead Catfish' started by GaryF, Feb 16, 2007.

  1. GaryF

    GaryF New Member

    Messages:
    3,649
    State:
    O.P., KS
    I may have the chance to go to Big Bend National Park, and I want to fish the Rio Grande River through there. The river has flatheads, blues, and channel cats, but the best shot at a bigger fish is to go for flatheads. The regulations are pretty restrictive, and bait could be a problem.:

    http://www.big.bend.national-park.com/camping.htm#fish
    “Digging for bait on park land is prohibited. Live or dead bait fish or amphibians are prohibited other than live bait minnows obtained from the Rio Grande”

    It mentions in another section that you can seine for minnows, but that is pretty much it for live baits. They don’t really define “minnow”, but I’ll read into that that if I caught a perch I wouldn’t be able to use it. Worms are probably excluded by other regulations on bringing in non native species. I’ve been down there a few times before, and never saw anyone fishing the river. I expect to get checked by a ranger pretty much every time I throw a line out, so I’ve got to be squeaky clean on meeting all of the regulations to the letter.

    This section of the river really sees very little fishing pressure. It used to get some from the Mexico side, but after 9/11 they shut down the border crossings, and the small towns, which relied on tourism from the American side pretty much dried up and went away. The river is pretty shallow, but with lots of deep holes and deep sections. It probably has a healthy flathead population.

    What would you use for flathead bait? A few thoughts I’ve had..

    Minnows (If I can catch them!)
    Hot Dogs
    Liver
    Food Source type baits?
    Punch Bait or other Stink Baits

    So far I don’t think the Big Bend flatties have much to worry about – looks like a list for channel cat. Maybe I’m missing something?:0a28:
     
  2. Terry Day

    Terry Day New Member

    Messages:
    298
    State:
    Parkville, Missouri
    Looks like a wonderful opportunity and it seems like you have done your research. Who knows, maybe Mr Flatty will have a hankerin for Oscar Meyer! Keep us posted n the trip. I'm more than a little envious!
     

  3. dougc

    dougc Active Member

    Messages:
    1,710
    State:
    Independen
    What about going with artificials? Crankbaits, jigs, etc...
     
  4. Ahquabi_Master

    Ahquabi_Master New Member

    Messages:
    999
    State:
    WDM Iowa
    I'd try to get some minnows. I'm sure there is a wide variety of them that you can catch out of the Rio. Are you allowed to use a cast net? If you don't want to go for minnows then use livers or wieners. I never knew there were flatheads in that part of the Rio. I was born and raised in El Paso and have fished it several times. I've caught channels but never a flathead or blue. I read a published research journal that said there were no flathead or blue in the El Paso area, but that there were some elsewhere. Well...Good luck - post your results please!
     
  5. GaryF

    GaryF New Member

    Messages:
    3,649
    State:
    O.P., KS
    Terry, It's a neat place to go, especially this time of year. It's not as warm as Florida, but I should see some nice daytime temps.

    Doug, That's a good idea on the crankbaits. I'll have to put a few in.

    Marcus, Castnets are not allowed. They do allow minnow seines.. the truth is, I don't know how to use a seine, but I may give it a try. Around Presidio or so the river flow drops off quite a bit, and there is a lot less water up at El Paso. I don't really know what the fish distribution is through there except for what I have read about the NP section.

    This picture gets me fired up when I see it:
    http://www.nps.gov/bibe/naturescience/fish.htm
     
  6. catfishcentral

    catfishcentral New Member

    Messages:
    1,497
    State:
    OK
    Those look to be some tough regs. I notice they allow setlines...I wonder what in the heck they bait them with. I've seined before but the ones I've used it's a two man operation, wading in the river puilling the sein through the water with a man at each end of the net. I'd call and see if there's better clarifaction for example with worms. Nightcrawlers are not my first choice for Flatheads but I've see a lot of Flatheads got on a big gob on nightcrawlers at my local dam.
     
  7. GMC FishHauler

    GMC FishHauler New Member

    Messages:
    1,335
    State:
    Waco, Texas, Un
    bass assasins, that is all i have to say.
    use them weightless and they look just like a wounded bait fish. Add a rattle and they should KILL the yellas.
    be sure to use the lightest line u feel comfortable with(12lb test here) and cast them out, jerk fall reel jerk, fall reel, ect. slowly.
    watch the line on the fall. thats when i caught some 5&15lb flatties (only other 2 i caught on r&r besides a 24lber on an ultra lite)
     
  8. GMC FishHauler

    GMC FishHauler New Member

    Messages:
    1,335
    State:
    Waco, Texas, Un
    BTW i think u can use native "perch" there. they kind of fall under "minnows" according to TX parks and wildlife. Or u can just call them and ask.
     
  9. CJ21

    CJ21 New Member

    Messages:
    4,303
    State:
    Montgomery, Alabama
    U might can try some plastic shad, or jigs.
     
  10. GaryF

    GaryF New Member

    Messages:
    3,649
    State:
    O.P., KS
    Chris, That’s a good point on the set lines. I guess hotdogs or something, lol. I’ll probably call and get clarification on the worms. I read something that made me think that any live bait was taboo. The problem is, I’m not seeing the actually regulations, just the summary version that they throw on the websites.

    James, I’ll take a look at the bass assassins, and ask about the perch when I get a permit. The National Park kind of has its own regs, I don’t even have to have a Texas fishing license.

    Thanks for the ideas everyone
     
  11. Blacky

    Blacky New Member

    Messages:
    10,351
    State:
    Philadelphia, P
    Gary,

    Here's what i would do. Bring a small spinning set up with 4 or 6 lb test. Use a small hook with garden worms. Thereshould be some kind of fish that will eat that piece of worm and then put it on a hook.
     
  12. huntsfromtree

    huntsfromtree New Member

    Messages:
    142
    State:
    KC Northland
    Gary, If you have not gone on your trip yet dont overlook artificial lures as recommended above. Crankbaits and large grubs can make great flathead lures. The key to this technique is to make sure your crankbait or grub is gliding or bouncing off of riprap or other stucture that holds flatheads. My brother learned this technique from a old timer here in missouri and it works. Good luck
     
  13. BigCatDreaming

    BigCatDreaming New Member

    Messages:
    263
    State:
    Illinois
    Yeah man thats a really tough call. I'd try to go to the bait store and get the largest sucker minnows they have, and maybe try setting up a two hook rigging system with two of the larger sucker minnows. Or maybe try those rigs they sell (wish I could remember the name) that they use for walleyes that have the two hook system and the small blades on them. If your on a boat try drift fishing past structure or a slip bobber rig. Those are just some ideas. I dont know if they will work or not but its worth a shot if you dont find something better.
     
  14. poisonpits

    poisonpits Well-Known Member Supporting Member

    Messages:
    9,757
    State:
    arkansas
    Name:
    johnnie
    look around under the lights and catch some crickrts.they come out at nite.use them to try and catch some rio grand perch.they make great bait for flatheads.if they havnt canged the law their leagle to fish with.
     
  15. olefin

    olefin New Member

    Messages:
    3,908
    State:
    Texas
    Been to Big Bend camping many times but never fished in that part of the Rio Grande. And we usually camped in the Chisos Basin.

    Where I fished the Rio Grande was a ways from Big Bend. It was an irrigation canal and we used blood on a trot line for channel cats.

    Good luck on your trip.
     
  16. massa_jorge

    massa_jorge New Member

    Messages:
    2,137
    State:
    TEXAS
    sometimes flatheads will hit a freshly cut bream head. take your ultralight and catch some perch would be my suggestion. i hook perch in the mouth and out the forehead, then cut the body off. if the flatheads don't go for that, the blues and channels might.
    another thing you could do is lightly hook a perch through the skin and fish him live. that way if you see the game warden coming your way, act like you had a bite and rip the hook out!
    seriously, don't do that, haha.
    let us know how you do on your trip!
     
  17. GaryF

    GaryF New Member

    Messages:
    3,649
    State:
    O.P., KS
    Thanks for the ideas everyone. I tried 4 different places. There is some good looking water there, especially around Rio Grande Village, but I never got a bite. I did see an older couple, fishing with worms, pull out an 8" blue cat. I had fun trying, anyway. I left Kansas City in the snow, and found high temps in the park of 86 and 88 degrees the first 2 days.

    The clarification I got on the bait regs didn't help me any. They don't consider perch / sunfish / etc to be minnows. They don't allow worms or insects to be brought in or collected there. No cut fish of any kind for bait. The impression I got is that the regs were not very specific on what a "minnow" is, and what I got was one park ranger's interpretation. It doesn't matter much, I threw jigs, corn, crappie nibbles, etc, and never found any perch. :sad2:

    Dayton, I love the Basin and the Chisos Mtns. This was my 4th trip to the park, and I figure I have spent 5 weeks of my life there, exploring the trails and backroads.