Flathead catfish color

Discussion in 'Flathead Catfish' started by JAinSC, Mar 20, 2008.

  1. JAinSC

    JAinSC Active Member

    Messages:
    1,514
    State:
    South Carolina
    The topic of flathead color has come up several times. I remembered I had this picture from last year and I thought some folks might find it interesting. (By the way, I seem to recall that they were about 8, 8 and 12 pounds. Something like that.)

    I caught these three fish within minutes of each other (which is why they are all laying on deck together - they were released right after the picture) in the same spot, so the water color isn't the reason for the color difference. I was anchored near the bank and the two brown fish hooked up right near the bank, with lots of woody cover, and the yellower fish was caught out in the open more, like maybe 30 feet from the bank. My theory is that the brown fish were matching the wood they were laying near and the yellower fish was blending in with the sand of the river bottom.

    I believe they can change color fairly quickly - I have put a real yellow flathead in a livewell and when I pulled it out 15 minutes later it was brown.
     

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  2. brother hilljack

    brother hilljack New Member

    Messages:
    7,305
    State:
    Shelbyville, TN
    very interesting observation, I would never have believed it.
     

  3. Jerry60k

    Jerry60k New Member

    Messages:
    881
    State:
    Chelyan, West V
    I myself beleive most fish can blend and adept to their enviroment.It wouldnt suprise me if the Flatheads could indeed change color almost like a chameleon.
    Afterall they are the Apex Predator of freshwater American fishes.
    I have noticed the same thing when holding fish to get certified for citations.
     
  4. rushing

    rushing New Member

    Messages:
    561
    State:
    Minnesota
    Like people flatheads seem to come in different colors for one reason or another but I have also been told that the build up of lactic acid or oxygen deprivation also will change their colors. The tend to get brighter yellow as when they are out of the water or fight for long periods and will return to a darker color when rested. A couple of years ago I caught 2 25lb flats within 30 mins and one was dark green and the other was bright gold.
     
  5. catfishrollo

    catfishrollo New Member

    Messages:
    6,894
    State:
    Ohio
    I have seen that difference actually quite often, and on the river I fish have seen how they change color due to water temp.s as well I believe. Take a fish that has been in the rocks, it has a deeper or darker color, one in the logs, the brownish/ yellow color.... Take one from a pond or small lake, they almost look blue! with pitch black spots, kinda weird looking! But, I have noticed how they really get a light yellow look to them in the late fall and early winter, thats why I believe water temps. along with area has an effect on their pigment...rollo
     
  6. Wolfdog

    Wolfdog New Member

    Messages:
    181
    State:
    Iowa
    Don't know about the color , But them are nice fish.
     
  7. uttatoo

    uttatoo New Member

    Messages:
    1,797
    State:
    greatbend kansas
    im not a expert but i have thought about color a bit and in my opinion they change due to habitat
    i have seen them come from deep waters and be dark and in shallow water yellow but both have come in either or but in my head i believe its the color of the water or shadows that they change to for camoflodge
     
  8. orion_xxvx

    orion_xxvx New Member

    Messages:
    397
    State:
    North Central Missouri
    I had always noticed a body difference along with color. The dark ones were shorter in length and appeared to have grown up in a lake enviroment where the yellowish brown ones were longer and slimmer as if they were having to swim harder. I like the info about them being able to change their color to their enviroment.
     
  9. Blacky

    Blacky New Member

    Messages:
    10,351
    State:
    Philadelphia, P
    I usually build a holding pond to put the flatheads I catch so I get a multiple-fish pic. I've caught dark brown and black ones and whe put in the pond they will change yellow/brown to blend with the river bottom.
     
  10. tomflatcat

    tomflatcat New Member

    Messages:
    384
    State:
    Hampstead, NC
    I catch flatheads from a pretty clear lake and they seem to by mostly brownish yellow.
     
  11. Netmanjack

    Netmanjack New Member

    Messages:
    3,734
    State:
    Ohio
    You know, I have many caught flats of different colors, and after many nights of pondering this puzzling behavior, I finally figured it out. You see not all fish come from the same school. The ones at home wear their HOME colors and the visitors usually where their AWAY colors. Other wise they would get the players mixed up! I caught one that was naked one time. I figure it came from the bleachers.:wink:
     
  12. john catfish young

    john catfish young New Member

    Messages:
    3,070
    State:
    Kentucky
    Just about all the ones I have caught around here are a medium to dark brown, like the one in my avatar.I wonder could it be the bodies of water causing this?:crazy:
     
  13. zeboman

    zeboman New Member

    Messages:
    2,883
    State:
    Pennsylvan
    This color change occurs in different fish such as bass and bluegills, I agree, this color change is due to adaptation.
     
  14. Ahquabi_Master

    Ahquabi_Master New Member

    Messages:
    999
    State:
    WDM Iowa
    I think you might be right. I caught a flathead that was darn near black and when the water dropped later in the year I saw that there was a darker colored rock in the same spot I caught him in.
     
  15. massa_jorge

    massa_jorge New Member

    Messages:
    2,137
    State:
    TEXAS
    when i was younger we fished really muddy water. almost all the flatties we caught were dark and mottled or black. the ones i catch up here in the panhandle are bright yellow, a dark one is rare. the water is very clear at lake meredith, and we find mostly crappie in their stomachs when we decide to keep one for the table.
    first pic is a 15# and a 35#, the 35 was very dark for what we catch up here. second pic is a typically colored fish for our water here, it had a few crappie in its stomach...
     

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  16. muddyjet

    muddyjet New Member

    Messages:
    61
    State:
    Alabama
    I have caught them in the different colors as well, guess I just thought is was maybe something within their diet. Guess if lizards and other creatures can change their color the mudcat can too. The one Fact I do know, no matter what color they are they are fun to catch and great to eat!!
     
  17. catfisherman_eky3

    catfisherman_eky3 New Member

    Messages:
    2,296
    State:
    Kentucky
    them are some pretty flatties
     
  18. katkiller77

    katkiller77 New Member

    Messages:
    1,549
    State:
    dayton ohio
    shovelheads are the chamelons of fish world. i caught two one day one was a light brown caught near a mud bank the other one was a yellow green caught near weeds. very good comment rick