Longtime Rivermen - Opinions wanted on flathead catfish

Discussion in 'Flathead Catfish' started by Salmonid, Feb 14, 2006.

  1. Salmonid

    Salmonid New Member

    Messages:
    1,833
    State:
    SW Ohio
    Ok, for you folks that have fished flatties for many years, Im curious if your home river is on the upswing, downswing or about the same as far as catching flatheads go. Im curious but my thoughts are that as experiences improve as does the technology, that sizes, and numbers go down.
    Lets hear what you think! Im betting that the trends is downward across the country. I certainly hope you all can prove me wrong...:rolleyes:

    Salmonid
     
  2. TDawgNOk

    TDawgNOk Gathering Monitor (Instigator)

    Messages:
    3,365
    State:
    Tulsa, Oklahoma
    My guess, and this is only a guess is that the fish population is like everything else. It will swing up, and it will swing down. For example, right now Oklahoma is in a dry swing, in a few years, we will have a wet swing.

    I think that mother nature will take care of herself as long as we don't do too much damage like oil spills and so on
     

  3. Salmonid

    Salmonid New Member

    Messages:
    1,833
    State:
    SW Ohio
    I guess I didnt think about the drought/high water years but was looking for a trend from a longterm 20-50 years prospective. Here in the Midwest, Our local streams get hammered and its to the point where if you want to fish some of the better spots, you better get there at 3:00pm to hold the spot for that evenings activities. While Im relatively new to Catfishing, Ive fished this river for 25 years and Ive seen a HUGE 100 fold increase in flathead hunters and while I dont have the results from a long enough period of time to know weather our cycle is going down but I imagine it would have to be, The river holes are few and far between and folks beating on them 24x7 will certainly take its toll on our river which only has a fair population of Flatheads. And Yes a lot of guys CnR but just as many dont.

    Thanks for the reply.
    Salmonid
     
  4. Brett2

    Brett2 Guest

    I've only been fishing my river for a year, but the catfish population is definately increasing. Flatheads were just "accidentally" introduced to it about 10 years ago or less, so a good population is just getting started. It's on the increase for flatheads, but im guessing other species of fish will suffer.
     
  5. dinkbuster1

    dinkbuster1 New Member

    Messages:
    2,272
    State:
    Ohio
    i have been river fishing for cats since '91 and i'd have to say the river i fish is on a slight upwards trend nowdays. a lot of the areas and holes are starting to recover from the raping that took place 5-8 years ago. during that time there was a huge increase in "river catfishing" articles in the magazines which drew all the "lakers" to the river in search of big fish. these folks were taking fish out, no matter the size, and transporting them back to their usual haunts and sometime selling for .25-.50 a pound. i do honestly think that they beleived there was an inexhaustable supply of fish in the river, kinda like their "lakes" which are stocked every other day. in the last 5 years or so i have seen a shift of these types back to the "lakes" since they have realized that there arent as many fish as once thought to be in the river. thankfully they have left a few that will eventually grow up. i have seen another increase in folks over the last 3 years, mainly due to the internet, but they seemed to be way more conservation minded so its not near as bad. you still have to go and reserve a spot by 3:00pm though :D things are on an upswing in my area...... for now at least.
     
  6. Willy

    Willy New Member

    Messages:
    242
    State:
    Missouri
    Depends on what section of the Missouri River you fish,right now around St Joseph,Mo the population of flatheads is down in my mind but we have had so much things change in the last ten years it might be a natural event. In 1993 we had massive flooding and high water all summer and the next year was more of the same,river levels looked like a roller coaster all season and now it pretty much gets to a certian level and stays close to that all summer. Fishing for flatheads used to be easy but now it's hard to put a limit in the boat in a days time . The river is undergoing a big change the last several years with water being held upstream and with the buildup of sediments on the bottom. I recently went to a meeting on the river and got some really good info as to why the river bed is building itself up and down around Kansas City it is accually getting deeper,has to do with water releases and lack of a good old natural period of high water to flush the sand and silt away.The moral of my story is that the river is turning into exactly what is supposed too with mans intruding on it and building containment features(dikes,revetted banks,other features that are there to channalize water ) and the outcome is it is a channalized ditch with little or no features that flatheads need to have to live and thats why we are catching bigger and more bluecats every year,it favors blues more in habitat. Give me a natural spring rise and higher water level to maintain a woody debris and turn me loose with a chainsaw and i could make some good brushpiles for Mr Flatty to live and and look out.
     
  7. flathunter

    flathunter New Member

    Messages:
    5,723
    State:
    Ohio
    I have been fishing for flatheads since 1983...My best years were the late 80's, been declining every since..But I hope to change that this year.
     
  8. JimF

    JimF New Member

    Messages:
    151
    State:
    IL
    Commercial fishing is/has takin a toll on the IL river.Do they allow commercial fishing on your river?
     
  9. flathunter

    flathunter New Member

    Messages:
    5,723
    State:
    Ohio
    Jim, no commercial fishing just a whole lot of catfishermen.
     
  10. Doctor

    Doctor Member

    Messages:
    378
    State:
    Springfield, Ohio
    I've seen up and down years on the Ohio, didn't see a lot of big Flatheads last year off of the Ohio mainly because for 6 months there was no current which lets the bait scatter all over the river and so the Flats have got to roam more to find there next meal, but on the upside that 6 months of no current produced better than 6 spawnings of Shad on the river, now when I go out there is bait on the river and lots of it, looks like most of them survived the winter months and now if we get some current then that should concentrate the Shad and bring in the big Flats for an easy meal, it will also produce more Shad, so i'm hoping that 2006 is a banner year for Flatheads.......Doc
     
  11. Fishgeek

    Fishgeek Active Member

    Messages:
    1,149
    State:
    Indiana
    Salmonid:

    I haven't been catfishing long enough (particularly in this area) to tell you if I think populations are rising or falling. I think I can tell you with some confidence that, as you mentioned, the popularity of catfishing has increased over the last several years. Obviously this means more people on the rivers fishing for cats and potentially more cats being harvested. Here's something to chew on -- I have NO idea if this is true...just a thought: Catfish are one of the smarter fish out there and also have the keenest sensory abilities of any freshwater gamefish. Is it possible that with all the extra fishing pressure, the cats have become a bit harder to catch and so it seems like there are less of them? I realize it's not quite the same as a bass or trout learning to avoid certain lures or flies. A piece of fish is a piece and as Doug & Toad always said in the In-Fishermen videos, "Flats just can't help themselves!" But, is it possible that the catfish have become sensitive to extra commotion on the river banks & shallows -- people tromping around, building fires, more boats, etc.??? (Obviously this would be more of a problem in a small to moderate sized river as opposed to the Missouri or Ohio)

    Some others brought up good points too. Variable recruitment: A few poor year-classes (limited spawns for couple years caused a bunch of different things, e.g., stream flows, temps) could potentially make the population look very poor for a while.
     
  12. HoosierPoleCat

    HoosierPoleCat New Member

    Messages:
    207
    State:
    Indiana
    salmonid Ive been fishing for cats for about 20+ years and I can say last year was horrible for river scum & I. The year before that was awesome. Last year the water conditions were not favorable for the fisherperson. I hope its on the up swing this year. I will agree with fishgeek, the fishing pressure has increased in the last few years. More people are going out looking for Mr. Wiskers. So I want the gererations after me to enjoy the same fun catching those large cats. So its CPR always for me.
     
  13. TDawgNOk

    TDawgNOk Gathering Monitor (Instigator)

    Messages:
    3,365
    State:
    Tulsa, Oklahoma

    This is what I'm talking about Salmonid. Fishermen are predators. And just like any other predator, the fish will learn to adapt by instinct. For example, currently the flats are in "holes" with brush or cover around. Through protection instincts, they may change their habitat to be open flats. Fish, just like people are always changing, learning, and evolving. I bet the fish are there, just may not have the size fish right now, or they may have moved to new locations to protect themselves.
     
  14. Salmonid

    Salmonid New Member

    Messages:
    1,833
    State:
    SW Ohio
    Some good points by all, interesting to read each 's thoughts.
    Now to answer a couple questions and ask a few more. Nope our river doesnt have any commercial fishing on it but has many dams that hurt the natural migration routes of these magnificent fish so it is not an open population. The populations are per river pool, some have decent populations while adjoining pools have hardly any fish in them at all.

    I am curious if one caught the same fish 10 days in a row on the same bait from the same hole how these fish would react. I know many studies have been done on Bass and Trout and if the same is true, then these flats will move locations on a permanent basis, ( find a new place to call Home) and will be line shy towards the same bait that took him so many times, and what we forget is that the stress on these fish once caught and released 1 time is minimal vs being caught over and over again and possibly by the same baits since everyone uses the same 2-3 most common baits,( bluegills, goldfish, cut baits) then this fish has to move ( protecting itsself) and with new territory, will force more movement to find the equal amount of food, thus stressing the fish more then normal and now ad that he will be even more selective from here on out as he will most likely pass on that next bait that may or may not be real but he has been conditioned to not want to eat. Causing even more stress. Just thinking out loud here,

    Salmonid
     
  15. catsmith1

    catsmith1 New Member

    Messages:
    1,073
    State:
    Haughton, Louisiana
    To start with, I am in no way shape or form a wildlife bioligist but I play one on tv........HEHEHE

    Seriously though, I have studied other creatures (deer coyote bass) My info has come from other peoples hard work and this is what I have found.

    Yes all animals are adaptable to their surroundings. Yes they will learn from experiences. Ask the dog at Pavlov's house.

    I know that most creatures will produce more living offspring when there is less pressure for food, habitat etc. God has created things in the animal kingdom to overcome. Our part is to use these resources wisely.

    I respect those who practice catch and release. I also respect a good plate of fried fish. I choose to keep what I will eat and let the rest roam free to be caught by my daughter the next trip (if they did not learn the first time)

    Once again, this is just food for thought from a soon to be old man.:crying:
     
  16. Bill D Curtis

    Bill D Curtis New Member

    Messages:
    252
    State:
    Blackwell Oklahoma
    Ive fished and noodled this small river here in northern Oklahoma for thirty yrs and the thing has been full of 20's and 30's the past few years but it has been really dry it seems that high water brings bigger fish up the river
     
  17. TDawgNOk

    TDawgNOk Gathering Monitor (Instigator)

    Messages:
    3,365
    State:
    Tulsa, Oklahoma
    Thanks for your opinion Catsmith1
     
  18. JAinSC

    JAinSC Active Member

    Messages:
    1,514
    State:
    South Carolina
    I've been flatheading my preferred river for about 5 years and my catches are increasing, but I'm sure that's because I'm getting better at the game. Fishing presure is deffinately increasing.

    Just my opinion, but I feel that we all need to be a bit conservative. Nothing wrong with eating fish, just don't be a hog about it. Some of us are lucky enough to live in fairly remote areas that see little fishing presure, but that situation is getting more and more rare. I live and fish in South Carolina and stay away from the fabled Santee Cooper lakes because they get a mind boggling amount of fishing presure (plus I simply prefer rivers). People have overfished virtually every species of fish in the oceans that they have targeted. Why would fresh water be any different. Catfish reproduce very effectively, so it's difficult to push their numbers way downthrough overfishing, but it takes a lot of years to grow a real trophy cat. Let's release most of the big ones and see how big they can get!
     
  19. comanchero

    comanchero New Member

    Messages:
    119
    State:
    Minnesota
    I don't worry about all the dread about declining flathead populations and the hype about the ever increasing number of flathead fisherman. Maybe I'm just lucky but most nights I am the only one catfishing on my stretch of the river. Lots of bass and walleye guys around early in the evening, who are afraid of the dark and head in as the sun goes down. I bump into an occasional catfisherman but there is a lot of river and I have never been pushed off anyplace I want to fish. One thing I do is always look for new spots - I try to spend at least an hour scouting each time out. I've got a list of spots that I will probably never have enough time to get to.

    My primary fishing waters don't have any catfish tournaments and we have a small population of experienced cat hunters who really catch big fish on a consistent basis. The tried and true cat hunters are all catch and release so there just isn't the predation on our cats that some areas of the country have.

    I will tell you this. I get skunked at least 50% of the times I go out. That is a lot of time sitting in the dark, swatting mosquitos, and listening to the Minnesota Twins lose another ballgame. Most of the new flathead fisherman just aren't willing to put in the time and effort for maybe one or two big fish a year. The wanna-bes may fish 4 or 5 times a summer and I don't think they put much of a dent in the flat population. But every year I manage to tie into a monster and it makes all the work and effort worthwhile. I will be doing this until the day I die - and when I do go, I expect it to be by being dragged out of the boat by about an 80# flat.
     
  20. torment_hack

    torment_hack New Member

    Messages:
    43
    State:
    california
    I dont know about the catfish but if you like giant Carp the imperial valley is for you...