Flathead catfish on top water?

Discussion in 'Flathead Catfish' started by rodpod, Jul 29, 2006.

  1. rodpod

    rodpod New Member

    Messages:
    518
    State:
    Evansville, Ind
    Ok, this is the second time I have witnessed this, but this time it was at a different place but about one year apart. I was out catfishing for an hour or so and I noticed a huge mouth come to the top of the water and start gulping. There were no shad, and nothing else I could tell it was eating. The wind was in my face blowing into a creek mouth on the Ohio River at about 20-35mph with low hanging clouds. The river had dropped 3 feet, and to the lowest level its been for a month or so. I had my headlamps on and i stood up and was shining into the water and there were literally hundreds of HUGE flatheads....No small flatheads, the smallest I seen was around 10 pounds. There were tons of 50+, and one that had to atleast be 80+. Anyways they would come up to the top and start opening/closing their mouths as far as they could and then stay about 6 inches under the water and then swim around and go down a few feet out of sight. I quickly pulled some of my lines in and put a bobber and a 10/0 king kahle on my line with no sinker with about a one foot drop to 3" drop. They did not care i was shining a flashlight or if i was casting in their face. I tried dead whole shad 3" and an 8" and a really large 14", and also used shad heads, cut skipjack, and a shad tail. They just werent interested. I did not have live bait, but with the waves and the whole shad i dont think it really made a difference. I probably could have snagged these fish, but I did not want to. I thought it was a sign from the catfish gods, torturing me even more by letting me see these huge fish in my spot in mass quantities. But it now has me bothered because I want to know why they were on the top of the water in a 30+ foot hole. Was it because the wind was blowing in stuff on the top of the water, or was it because the water level dropped enough to bring these fish off of their hiding spots. Or maybe because the oxygen levels were higher from the white caps. I figured I would ask any of you guys if you've seen this before or might know why they are doing this. I am not crazy, and there was no doubt about them being flatheads...sometimes their top lip was coming out of the water, and the water was pretty clear and you could see the whole body and the coloration to them. I spent about 3 hours trying different things, but had no bites. I wanted to stay, but i was getting tired and Jagal and my brother were ready to leave. I want to go tommorrow night and see if the same thing happens and even get there before dark to see if i can video tape it. Let me know what you all think....
     
  2. barbel

    barbel New Member

    Messages:
    486
    State:
    Somewhere
    I am not sure if this is the same thing, but I have seen fish do the same sort of thing in my minnow bucket. If the water level dropped that low there could have been insufficient oxygen in the water there that they couldnt breathe without mixing some oxygen in themselves on the top of the water. If you ever get a bunch of minnows without an aerator, you will see them gulp water on the top to get oxygen if there isnt any in the bucket. Just my idea of what it was.
     

  3. rodpod

    rodpod New Member

    Messages:
    518
    State:
    Evansville, Ind
    Yeah thats what I was thinking but there were no small fish there, and no carp, drum, or any other fish that I see in that area. So im not sure if each fish has their own tolerance to o2 levels in the water.
     
  4. Kyle

    Kyle New Member

    Messages:
    347
    State:
    Kansas City - Olathe
    Yeah, I've seen big cats do this before, not as many or as you've described but I've been on flats in about 20+ feet and seen them doing it at night, and just like yourself tried EVERYTHING I could think of suspending the bait, floating ect..never caught them though. I believe they're just up there for Oxygen, and not nessicairly feeding (although its hard to believe a 30lbs cat will pass up a free shad fillet). I just don't think they're feeding when they come up like that. Or at least thats what I had to convince myself of, so I'd stop fishing for them. I had to keep telling myself they're 'bottom feeders'. I don't know though. I'm still perplexed by it. Thanks for the memories though, and nice signature rodpod
     
  5. Katphish

    Katphish New Member

    Messages:
    55
    State:
    tennessee
    Ive seen them do this before, it was also when the water was low. So my guess would be they were getting Oxygen.
     
  6. Kyle

    Kyle New Member

    Messages:
    347
    State:
    Kansas City - Olathe
    Can't remember if the water was low or not the time I'm refering to..prabily was. Also I'm not so sure they were all flatheads either, can't remember..not that it matters....
     
  7. DeerHunter01

    DeerHunter01 New Member

    Messages:
    2,113
    State:
    Kentucky
    Can I have what you had last night , thats got to be some good stuff you had !! lol

    Brent, it's one of two things you said, O2 or Feed of some sort maybe a hatch of something.

    Hey just thought of something, Winston said he thinks there all females and there checking you out !! (just a idea) :eek:oooh:
     
  8. jobiechillin

    jobiechillin New Member

    Messages:
    20
    State:
    Pennsylvainia
    remember that the smaller the fish the less oxygen it needs to live. Its kind of like how all the big bait die in the bucket first.
     
  9. rodpod

    rodpod New Member

    Messages:
    518
    State:
    Evansville, Ind
    Yeah except big shad, the big shad always live the longest when Im keeping them live. Could be luck?
     
  10. SkiMax

    SkiMax New Member

    Messages:
    2,012
    State:
    Rising Sun, IN
    The shad don't die from a lack of oxygen though. They die from suffocation from the slime in the bucket coating their gills. It takes more slime for the big ones therefore more time to die

    As for the flatheads I don't think it had to do with oxygen. You said you were fishing the Ohio River. There is no thermocline in the river or 'turnover'. There should be more than ample oxygen, ESPECIALLy at the mouth of a creek. I believe they were doing it for food. I know I was out on the Ohio last night and I noticed some mayflies were hatching. I am thinking that maybe they were eating these. I have walleye fished during the mayfly hatch and you can't buy a bite. It's kinda like you craving chinese, going to the chinese restaurante and having them try to mix in a cheeseburger in there.:lol:

    I have seen flatheads (although not that size or numbers) do this twice. Both times I wished I had my fly rod with me, thinking they might bite a nymph danced in front of them.
     
  11. Jammer

    Jammer New Member

    Messages:
    584
    State:
    Tennessee
    They were probably just laughing at you.
     
  12. rodpod

    rodpod New Member

    Messages:
    518
    State:
    Evansville, Ind
    I think you're right.
     
  13. Larry

    Larry New Member

    Messages:
    707
    State:
    Minnesota
    The big fish probably are not eating the mayflies if there was a hatch going on.
    It is poss if the river level dropped really low and water temps are really high. That they were getting extra O2.
    In all likely hood if they are short on air the last thing they are going to worry about is eating. You can try all you want but lets face it. Nature has its priorties strait. You go with out food a heck of a lot longer than you can with air.
    Last thought, was there any sign of any contaminates in the water. It seems highly unusual that that many fish were up on the surface.
    Interesting story thanks for sharing.
    Larry
     
  14. Dreadnaught

    Dreadnaught New Member

    Messages:
    5,444
    State:
    Henderson,Ky
    Maybe they were trying to tell you something, like "Quit catching our little ones" or "go somewhere else, we ain't fall'n for it dude", LOL!!!
     
  15. whiteriverbigcats

    whiteriverbigcats New Member

    Messages:
    3,452
    State:
    Indiana
    i havent seen this so i have no clue... but i want to see it.. sound awsome... i would try to swim with them like they were dolphins... lol....... But i have seen a few in the Lake near my house skim the top of the water in mid day... So i guess i beleive you.... havent fished the Ohio yet but have a big feeling i will in the next few weeks....
     
  16. dinkbuster1

    dinkbuster1 New Member

    Messages:
    2,272
    State:
    Ohio
    beleive it or not rivers do "stratify". i fish a small/medium river and some of the slower, deeper holes (20+ft) stratify when its hot and the river is low. throw out a live bait on bottom at that time and it will be dead in 10 minutes! if the Ohio river does get really low and hot im sure it stratifies too.
     
  17. Ahquabi_Master

    Ahquabi_Master New Member

    Messages:
    999
    State:
    WDM Iowa
    I had the same thing happen to me on a hot summer day. There were big blues AND flatheads - and the creek was pretty low. The were gathering in the shade and surfacing for what I could only conclude as oxygen. There were not any insects or algae on top of the water so I figured it was oxygen. It sure did excite me at first - but they just ignored my bait! It made me want to cry lol.
     
  18. river scum

    river scum New Member

    Messages:
    3,474
    State:
    hooterville indiana
    thx for posting this podster. i havent seen anything like that with flats here.
     
  19. serb

    serb New Member

    Messages:
    55
    State:
    Drexel Hill, PA
    It was storming one night and the water was brown and near the bank I saw a huge mouth come out real slow and go back down... must have been a 20+lb catfish, but thought I was crazy for seeing it. Now it seems a bit more common.
     
  20. ka_c4_boom

    ka_c4_boom New Member

    Messages:
    2,252
    State:
    Bedford,Ky
    i agree with jw they were tellin you to stop harrassing them lol