man catches 254-lbs of flatheads at tappen lake on christmas day

Discussion in 'OHIO LAKES / RESERVOIRS' started by flathunter, Jan 4, 2009.

  1. flathunter

    flathunter New Member

    Area fisherman spends a day with monsters at Tappan

    Randy Norris stuggles to hold up the 49-pound, 8 ounce catfish he caught at Tappen Lake
    It’s not usually hard to spot Randy Norris at an area lake. He’s the guy fishing with his dog, Saugie.

    It’s was especially easy to spot Norris on the lake on the Saturday after Christmas.
    He was the guy making trip after trip to shore at Tappan to get his picture taken with giant catfish.
    During a six-hour outing, Norris boated seven fish with the lightest being 18 pounds, 9 ounces and the heaviest cracking the scales at 49 pounds, 8 ounces.

    The seven fish — which were caught, photographed and released individually — weighed an amazing 254 pounds, 11 ounces.

    From smallest to largest, they weighed 18-9, 22-0, 38-9, 39-4, 40-45, 46-6 and 49-8.

    “I used to hear people say that they caught so many fish their arms were hurting, and I always thought they were crazy,” said Norris, who lives near Tappan Lake. “But my arms were really hurting.”

    Norris caught all seven of the fish — and hooked six others — from the same spot on the lake and caught them all on a 1/4-ounce Vib E and 8-pound test line.

    After landing the fish, he headed towards shore to find someone to take his picture.

    “I have a timer on my camera, but I couldn’t set it off and pick up the fish in 10 seconds,” he laughed.

    Norris said he’s caught big cats at Tappan before, but not like this.

    “They were just stacked up in the same area,” he said. “I started fishing at 10:30 in the morning and quit at 4:30.”

    Attached Files:

  2. tbull

    tbull New Member

    SW Ohio
    Thats crazy!!!:eek:oooh:....what did it say he was using for bait?? 1/4oz what?

  3. Mike81

    Mike81 Well-Known Member

    What a day...and 8 lb test??? lol :cool2:
  4. neocats

    neocats New Member

    It goes to show how Flatheads hole-up in the winter time. He found a hold full.
  5. jason berry

    jason berry New Member

    Sounds like he had one of the days everybody hopes for. About the arm hurting thing I know what he means there when you get into a mess of fish you will fill it sometimes for example Ive told people I got into so many bass I couldnt hold them with m right thumb any more because it was so worn and had to start using my left thumb and it got sore by the end of the day and then when you get into a serious mess of crappie your hands will have a ton of puncture wounds on them and hurt to open and close your hands. Hats off to the guy, thats when you know your into the fish when a part of your body is hurtin from catchin them.
  6. RiverKing

    RiverKing Active Member

    Yellow Spr
    Thanks Jack, that is a cool story...I have heard good things about Tappen Lake.
  7. smoothkip25

    smoothkip25 New Member

    I think they said Hotdogs and marshmallows?:eek:oooh:
  8. catfishrollo

    catfishrollo New Member

    It also shows that flatheads will feed in the winter still:roll_eyes::wink: I read this article on the Ohio Game Fishing.. Thanks for sharing flathunter..... rollo
  9. brother hilljack

    brother hilljack New Member

    Shelbyville, TN
    sounds like a dream day on the water! Jack, thanks for sharing with us
  10. metalman

    metalman Well-Known Member

    It's a good thing it was him that found those fish and not someone who would have cleaned that hole out; I'm betting he will keep the location "classified".
    That is a perfect demonstration of the way they hole up in the winter and also how they can be caught if you can drop a bait or lure right on their noses.
    Thanks for the story Jack...W
  11. smoothkip25

    smoothkip25 New Member

    That def. would be a great day of fishing! Thanks for the story jack!
  12. LureheadEd

    LureheadEd New Member

    I still want to know what Vib E is....
  13. brad kilpatrick

    brad kilpatrick New Member

    Kansas City
  14. hunted

    hunted New Member

    washington court house,oh
    thanks for the story,flathunter.

    wow,looks like i need to get off my duff on my days off and try his tricks.
  15. kenlaw76

    kenlaw76 Well-Known Member

    S.E. Pa.
    That is crazy. Thanks for the story bro. did you see where he was fishing?
  16. bnorth

    bnorth New Member

    That's pretty cool. Those Vib-E lures don't look like they could stand much of a beating from a 50lb flattie. Kudos to this guy for releasing all those fish.
  17. Joey6500

    Joey6500 New Member

    I don't know if I believe this.Unless they were snagged.I've seen videos of wintering flatheads and they were in a trance covered in silt not moving whatsoever .:roll_eyes:
  18. Bill in SC

    Bill in SC New Member

    South Caro
    <I don't know if I believe this.Unless they were snagged.I've seen videos of wintering flatheads and they were in a trance covered in silt not moving whatsoever .:roll_eyes:>


    An article from in-fisherman .com

    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    From The Archives [SIZE=+1]Frosty Flatheads[/SIZE]
    The Hole Truth About Flatheads In Rivers Right Now
    by Steve Hoffman

    The season for channel cats on the Minnesota portion of the Red River extends from early May through the end of February. I mention this in an article about flatheads because it's the only legal season for catfish that I'm aware of in North America. Most parts of the country, though, have at least an informal season. Most veteran flathead anglers, for example, begin fishing when water temperatures warm into the low to mid-60F range in spring, and they hang up their rods when water temperatures cool below 50F in fall.

    Translating those water temperatures to a calendar can be difficult because weather and water conditions never are constant from one year to the next. During a typical season, though, I'd guess the traditional flathead season in Minnesota extends roughly from mid-May through early October. Heavy cold spring rains might slide the opener back, and a few warm fall days may extend the fishing for a week or two, but northern anglers can expect about six months of fishing during a typical year. Probably add a couple weeks to each end of your season in Missouri and a month or more in South Carolina.

    Regardless of where you fish, though, cooling water eventually pushes flatheads into wintering holes that afford them some level of comfort and security. The start of what we call the Coldwater Period is characterized by nearly constant cold water temperatures. Again, how cold depends on geographic location. In the north, some river sections may be covered by three feet of ice, and water temperatures range from a low of 32F to a high of about 39F. Winter temperatures in the mid-South may run in the mid-40F range, and the high 50F range in the deep south.

    It follows, then, that a flathead's need for a separate winter range would be strongest in the northern two-thirds of their range. In rivers like the Tallahatchie and Big Black in Mississippi, where water temperatures remain above 50F throughout winter, flatheads may remain in the same areas they occupied during summer. In the Minnesota, St. Croix, Wisconsin, and other northern rivers, though, they usually drop into moderately deep holes when water temperatures dip below about 50F. And so long as these holes aren't filled in by changing river dynamics, fish may inhabit the same wintering holes from one year to the next.

    Studies on the Minnesota River conducted by biologists with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources found that channel cats and flatheads favor different wintering holes, though some overlap occurs. While channel cats tend to congregate in the deepest available water, flatheads favor holes with heavy wood cover or rock structure that blocks current, usually in water 12 to 18 feet deep. Most fish in the Minnesota River don't move far, but a long migration may occur in some rivers.

    It has long been assumed that these wintering flatheads--especially those at the northern edge of their range--seldom bite, though they're occasionally caught by anglers fishing with jigs or bait for walleyes or some other species. A reliable pattern has been difficult to establish, though, because most of these anglers weren't targeting flatheads, and most of the fish they reported catching were snagged.

    In recent seasons, though, we've met anglers like John Lehto and Terry Hansen who do indeed target flatheads in northern rivers during the coldest times of the year. Both are coldwater catmen to the core. Neither pursues flatheads during the traditional summer season, but both routinely break through ice at the boat ramp thick enough to support an ice fisherman, and they brave temperatures cold enough to send ice fishermen in search of a propane heater.

    John Lehto, as we've already established, is not a typical flathead fisherman. He doesn't care much for night fishing, and he claims to lack the patience he assumes is necessary to stillfish with livebait. What's most unusual about Lehto, though, is that his season doesn't begin until his neighbors in Somerset, Wisconsin, are putting their boats in storage and rigging their ice rods.

    But he does like to catch big flatheads. Fishing from mid-October through the end of March, Lehto and two partners boated more than 250 flatheads in the Mississippi and St. Croix rivers on the Minnesota-Wisconsin border. Their remarkable catch included 15 fish over 40 pounds and two that topped 60. "My biggest fish was just under 70 pounds," Lehto adds, "which would have eclipsed the current Wisconsin record (65 pounds)."

    Most of his fish are caught in main-river holes from 20 to 30 feet deep. "I usually drift through a hole at current speed," Lehto says, "using an electric motor only to correct my drift and keep the bait directly beneath the boat. Several drifts may be needed to find where the cats are holding. Sometimes most of the fish push toward the head of the hole, but at other times, they're lined up along the channel ledge or scattered throughout the core of the hole."

    Lehto sometimes uses sonar to locate fish holding on or near the bottom, but they're difficult to discern from the bottom because of the sunken timber, rock, and other cover that litters the hole. "Flatheads usually hold behind large objects like wood and rock that deflect cover," Lehto adds, "but they also line up behind each other. At times, they're packed so tightly into prime holes that jigging without snagging a fish is almost impossible."

    Most of the flatheads caught during the Coldwater Period are, as we've said, snagged, usually by anglers targeting walleye or sauger. This has made many anglers skeptical of those claiming to catch numbers of flatheads in water colder than about 50F. "I keep a detailed record of all my catches," Lehto counters, "including notes about how the fish was caught. I estimate that about 25 percent of my fish are snagged, but that's definitely not my intent, and most of the fish definitely are taking the bait."

    Lehto's choice of bait may be the most remarkable aspect of his approach. His initial catches were made with the same plastic grub and minnow combinations used by walleye anglers, but he soon learned that soft plastics were enough to trigger strikes from semi-active flatheads. "I've had success with 3- to 5-inch shad imitators like Mister Twister Sassy Shads, Berkley Shimmy Shads, and Banjo Minnows.

    "I always add some kind of scent to the bait--usually Berkley's Walleye Power Bait Attractant or Baitmate Catfish Scent--but I'm not sure how important scent is," Lehto continues. "I've also experimented with rattles inserted into the plastic baits, but again, I can't say for sure it produces more strikes. The whole key to this presentation seems to be keeping the bait near the bottom and jigging fairly aggressively to trigger strikes--just like walleye fishing."

    Unlike walleye anglers, though, Lehto uses heavy-power muskie bucktail rods and large-capacity casting reels spooled with 40-pound monofilament. "Snags are so common that I've started using a 30-pound mono leader,"Lehto says. "I lose a few more jigs each season, but I'm not shortening my main line every time I break off. Heavy tackle also means more landed fish. Flatheads tend to be much more lethargic in cold water, but I still expect a battle to last about a minute for every three pounds of fish."

    Terry Hansen, owner of Apex Tackle in South Sioux City, Nebraska, has for years been making spectacular catches of big flatheads during the coldest times of the year. He fishes the lower ends of major Missouri River tributaries. Runs on these rivers average 4 to 8 feet deep, and most sharp bend holes are about 20 feet deep. Most of these holes are 100 to 200 feet long and drop and rise gradually at the head and tailout sections. Most also contain little wood or rock cover.

    Hansen says most of the bend holes he fishes hold at least a few flatheads, but he prefers to pinpoint their location with a flasher. "You can pass right over the tops of these fish without seeing them on a liquid crystal graph," Hansen says, "but a properly tuned flasher will separate fish from the bottom. After spotting a fish, I use my electric motor to hover over the fish, holding my bait right in front of its nose until it decides to eat."

    We've long recommended flashers for precision tasks like reading through dense vegetation or vertically jigging through the ice. Before you trade in your LCG for a flasher, though, realize that spotting fish holding tight to the bottom isn't always easy. "I know how to tune and interpret my flasher through years of experience," Hansen adds. "Most importantly, though, I know what I'm looking for. That flickering bottom signal may look like a stump to the untrained eye, but I usually can pick out the fish."

    Like Lehto, Hansen also has found that large numbers of flatheads tend to congregate in prime wintering holes. "If I catch a fish or even see a fish on my flasher," Hansen says, "I'm confident that at least 10 or 15 other flatheads are present in the hole. Most of the fish I catch in late winter are covered with sores, scrapes, and have chunks of their dorsal fins chewed off. One fishery manager I fish with speculates that the fish are taking pieces out of each other, due either from hunger or territorial battles in tight quarters."

    Hansen also finds walleyes, sauger, and saugeyes sharing real estate with flatheads. During the first six weeks of 1999, he caught more than 1,500 saugeyes in the 2- to 5-pound range and dozens of flatheads to 50 pounds. With the balance of his catch so clearly on the walleye side of the ledger, he continues to use walleye tackle and tactics throughout winter. "I use medium-power spinning gear spooled with 4- or 6-pound line," Hansen says. "My bait is a 1/8- or 1/4-ounce Apex Crystal Ball Jig tipped with a 4- to 6-inch shiner.

    "Most hardcore flathead fishermen can't believe I'm able to land big fish on such light line," Hansen adds, "and I admit that I probably couldn't do it in warm water. In the winter, though, the current is almost imperceptible, and the cold water really saps the strength of a big flathead. I'd guess that Lehto's estimate of one minute per three pounds is about right for me too, but I use much lighter line.

    "These fish just don't fight like they do during summer," Hansen adds. "I was bringing in a fish last season when my line frayed and broke on a cracked guide. I reached over the gunnel and grabbed the terminal end of the line that was still floating on the surface and brought the fish in hand over hand. The fish weighed almost 50 pounds but felt like dead weight on the line."

    On his best day last winter, Lehto and a partner boated 35 flatheads for a total weight of more than 600 pounds. Regulations on the river section they were fishing permit each angler to keep 10 fish, but farther downstream (in the Iowa stretch of the Mississippi River), they could have harvested all the fish. "Not only can these fish be caught during the coldest time of the year," Lehto adds, "but also, they probably can be caught in greater numbers than at any other time of year. I release all the fish I catch and encourage other anglers to do the same."

    Unfortunately, not all anglers voluntarily follow Lehto's example. We're committed to covering topics like this one because it's part of the whole catfishing experience. It certainly appears, though, that flatheads--particularly big flatheads--are extremely vulnerable in cold water.

    Editor In Chief Doug Stange, a longtime proponent of bringing catfish regulations into line with regulations for other important gamefish, agrees. "These consolidated fish probably need protection from harvest during winter," Stange says. "Certainly, they need protection from overharvest. The problem remains that we have little definition of what constitutes overharvest in most areas. Even in conservative states, such as Minnesota, the limit on most waters is five catfish of any species, never mind that those five fish could be 40-pound flatheads with a combined age of well over 100 years.

    "Never mind, too," Stange continues, "that these fish might be taken from a winter concentration that numbers in the hundreds, these hundreds being the fish that will, once spring arrives, spread throughout the river and tributaries to provide recreation for the masses. But I'm reaching here. All I know for certain is that we need to know more so we can protect appropriately in order to ensure good fishing for this incredible big gamefish. In the meantime, anglers need to exercise discipline by practicing selective harvest. Until we have a better handle on how fragile these fisheries are, let's release the big fish and on occasion perhaps keep only a small fish or two."

    Bill in SC
  19. catfishrollo

    catfishrollo New Member

    They will hit, I have caught them in the winter. I have two wintering holes that have produced many fish in years past. Not any of that size and quality, but have caught 5-15 pounders. Maybe this will be an eye opener to everyone that says they can't be caught in the winter. I have some pictures laying around somewhere, I will see if I can find any from some of these cold water days...rollo