Having trouble with Small river flathead catfish

Discussion in 'Flathead Catfish' started by JAinSC, Feb 28, 2007.

  1. JAinSC

    JAinSC Active Member

    Messages:
    1,514
    State:
    South Carolina
    I have been fishing for several years on the lower, tidal reaches of the Edisto and the Santee Rivers and I'm doing pretty well on the flatheads (average about 5 flatheads per night, genearlly with at least a 20, couple of 40+ pound fish per season). The Edisto down there is about 50 to 75 yards wide (75 to 100 yards wide for the Santee) and the depths are like 5 feet on the flats with holes to 15 on the Edisto and some 30 foot holes on the Santee.

    Lat two years I have tried a few trips to the upper Edisto, probably 60 miles upstream from the area I usually fish. The river up there is maybe 40 to 70 feet wide and ranges in depth from shoals that wont' float a jonboat to 15 foot holes on the sharp bends. The current up there also tends to run pretty fast, except during thelowest water of summer.

    The thing is, I have only managed to catch a couple of small (5 pounds or less) flatheads in the upper river, and most trips I have caught none. Are there any secrets to fishing small rivers for flatheads? I've tried the holes, eddies, runs, etc. Are small river fish more likely to feed at a different time of the day or night, or in any paricular type of habitat? I'd really appreciate any advice anyone can offer.
     
  2. rockbass

    rockbass New Member

    Messages:
    1,107
    State:
    Ohio
    In my experience, there are no secrets. If you are fishing areas that should hold flatties and they just aren't biting, it coudl be they just aren't real abundant that far upstream from where you were fishing. Possibly not as much foarge for them to be attracted to that area. If the baitfish aren't in there, the cats won't be either. In areas where I fish, I see bait fish moving when the fish are biting. Other areas you don't see anything and of course don't do well on cats.

    This is my opinion of course. I have no facts to back it up. but hopefully it might help ya:smile2:
     

  3. wolfman

    wolfman Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    9,081
    State:
    Triadelphia, WV
    Name:
    Walter Flack
    I dont fish the smaller rivers much, but would think the same tactics apply, only on a smaller scale. Maybe even could be that area does not have the bait or resources to produce big flatheads. I would focus on the feeder creeks and current breaks with a lot of structure.
     
  4. GMC FishHauler

    GMC FishHauler New Member

    Messages:
    1,335
    State:
    Waco, Texas, Un
    i fish alot of sandbars in small creeks and rivers. works pretty good for me
     
  5. socex

    socex New Member

    Messages:
    102
    State:
    Industry, Pennsylvania
    I could be crazy:lol: , but try fishing it from about 3PM on. I fish the Beaver river, which feeds the much larger Ohio. And it seems I do well in the Beaver river the last couple hours of daylight, and then it seems the bite on the Ohio starts picking up after about 9:00PM. I always referred to the smaller river as a daytime staging area for the bigger flats. I'm probably looking into it much further than I have to. It's just what works for me in my waters.:crazy:
     
  6. rushing

    rushing New Member

    Messages:
    561
    State:
    Minnesota
    Smaller river = less fish.....Doesnt mean they will be smaller fish but just less of them. Sometimes on a smaller river you will get to a hole or a snag and you can fish it often without a bite but that doesnt mean that there isnt fish in there. Could be that there is one large cat who either ate or has scared off the smaller ones and just arent hungry that night. When fishing smaller rivers especailly if they are rarely fished waters try to be as quiet as possible, if the fish arent used to noise it can really turn them off. Also you can try down sizing your hook and bait. Hope it gives you some ideas. Where I fish the river can get super low in the fall and the river often is only a couple of feet deep.
     
  7. Redd

    Redd New Member

    Messages:
    790
    State:
    Southeast Kansas
    I fish a river that sounds something like that. And I agree with a lot of the above posts, about the less fish aswell as they just might not be in that section. I've had pretty good luck on a low water dam they swim up against in the spring. Then in a hole behind some rifles is always good. Especially if it's thick with brush and cover. If this doesn't work, and there's baitfish around, I don't know WHAT to tell ya... Anyway, hope something's helped you out.

    -Red
     
  8. JAinSC

    JAinSC Active Member

    Messages:
    1,514
    State:
    South Carolina
    Thanks everyone.

    I did some measurements on Google Earth yesterday. My productive flathead area is around river mile 25 (distance up from the ocean) and the upriver area is about river mile 95, so it's like 70 miles up as the river flows.

    The upriver area has plenty of bait. I have caught redbreast, bluegills, warmouth, spotted sunfish, shellcrackers, largemouth, chain pickerel, crappie and more in the area. It also has a pretty good populationof smallish channel cats (5 pounds is a big fish in this area).

    It may be that there ane not that many flatheads up there. I have caught a few small flats up there, though. Also, a guy from the state told me a while back that he shocked (they electrofish to collect fish to test for mercury and pesticides) a flathead about 12 miles downstream that he thought looked bigger than the state record (which is like 75 pounds). Also, our winters are mild enough and that area of the river holds some real nice holes (20 feet) so I doubt the flats would have to move downriver in the cold weather much. (ALthough downstream I do find them in wintering holes in November...)

    From what you all have said, I guess my best theory is that the area probably holds less big flatheads, and the ones that are there dominate their own little territory and might only feed occasionally.

    The locals fish the area a fair amount for the redbreast mostly, and now and then for the channel cats, but almost no one targets the flatheads up there. It could be that if I am willing to put in the time, I might just find a real monster or two.
     
  9. s_man

    s_man New Member

    Messages:
    3,012
    State:
    south east ohio
    Don't concentrate so much on the deepest holes (unless they have wood or a jam). Look for the stretches from 5 to 10 feet deep with cover along the bank. The longer the AREA with cover the better the chance you'll hook up. You will just have to scout a few miles to find the right combo. Fish from near dusk till morning if you can. Place baits up aginst the bank and out to 20 feet around that wood cover. Thats where all the little fish hang out at night and so will the flats. And you have to keep quiet, and lights out in those lonely stretches that don't get either on a regular basis. Those fish are more easily turned off than big river fish.
     
  10. JAinSC

    JAinSC Active Member

    Messages:
    1,514
    State:
    South Carolina
    S_man

    You just described exactly the stretches and the way I fish downriver (long stretch of 5-10 feet with good cover, fish the edge of the cover and on out).

    I think I'm just going to have to put in some more time and see what I can develope up in the smaller area.