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Discussion in 'Flathead Catfish' started by FlatGetter, Oct 2, 2006.
How far will they travel to winter in a small river
Thats a good question. I think flattys mainly stay close to the hole they live in, not wandering much. Flatheads aren't the scavangers that channel cat's are. In a night they might go from the hole to some shallows then to a log jam then back to the hole for the day. If the fish has a hole that is suitable for wintering in then I would say they won't leave that area at all. If a fish has been feeding and living in a small hole that isn't suitable for wintering in then I would say, maximum of 1 mile to find a nice hole. In most rivers each hole is realy not very far away from eachother, atleast thats how they are around here. So, a flathead doesn't move very far at all really. I think I read somewhere on here that a tagged flathead moved 10 river miles in like 7 years?!?!?!
I am not sure, but in my neck of the woods they move quite a distance between seasons. In the summer months they gather at the end of riffles, where the water stays relatively cool and full of oxygen. This is a vital element for spawning as well. Fish will swim a considerable distance up the river to find suitable water for spawning and feeding in the spring, and summer months, before returning to the deeper waters late in the fall and winter months.
The flathead mentioned above may only travel 10 miles in 7 years, but how many times has he made that 10 mile trip? A lot also depends on water levels, as low water levels may cause natural barriers, and high water levels may eliminate these same barriers, or create new ones.
That is just my opinion, in my neck of the woods, it may be different everywhere.
Everything I've read, together with my own experience, has added up to tell me that it all depends on the river and the habitat available. If they have the good deep (on my favorite river in SC, that seems to be about 30 feet) hole that they want with food nearby, then they might not go more than a couple of miles. On the other hand, I've read that in some shallow midwest rivers without good overwintering habitat, they might go 100 miles and leave the river entirely to go down to the next big river (be it the Miss. or Misouri, etc).
It seems kind of simplistic and obvious when you stop to think about it, but they move only as far as they need to to find the habitiat that they need. If they have a 1/2 mile of river that holds good forage, good deep wintering habitat, and good snags to live in during the warm season and spawn in, then they might never leave that area their whole life.
Anyway, that's the theory that I'm opperating on right now.
I heard of a flattie in the missouri river that was tagged and released near Columbia, Mo. and was caught the following spring in the grand river at Brunswick Mo. about a hundred miles away. I don't know which is harder to profile, blues because they are highly migratory, or flats because you just don't know what they are up to till you hook into one. I'm no expert either. Haven't caught many flats this year anyway.
Yeah, that's one of the reasons I figure I'm lucky to be fishing here in SC. The flatheads in the southeast coastal rivers can't go all that far. If the they try to go downstream, they hit saltwater. If they try to go upstream, well there's only so far they can travel till the rivers peter out or they run into a dam. So at least I know the fish are home. Getting hooked into one is another story, though.