New to flathead catfishing

Discussion in 'Flathead Catfish' started by channelcathunter64, Nov 11, 2007.

  1. channelcathunter64

    channelcathunter64 New Member

    Messages:
    72
    State:
    tennessee
    i have been catfishing for a year or two but only for channels. I wanted to start to persue bigger cats, so i need to know what kind of bait is best, what kind of hooks, and tips on what to look for for a good bank fishing spot(no boat:sad2:)
     
  2. jagdoctor1

    jagdoctor1 New Member

    Messages:
    708
    State:
    CA/AZ
    Well your in the right spot for sure. You'll get lots of help here. I suggest first to read through some of the other posts as most of the questions are answered. Since you are asking so much I'll give a general rundown. Flathead prefer Live bait such as a live brim, bluegill, bullhead, shad. Hook these usually through the back between the dorsal fin and the tail making sure not to hit the spine. Some prefer hooking in the front through the lips or eyes. Use a hook in relation to what your fishing for. Circle hooks are a popular choice but I prefer live bait hooks. The size is important. If your using an eight inch bluegill your going to need a hefty hook 4/0 to 10/0 as you might very well catch a large flathead that will make a regular hook look like a paper clip. For location it varies alot. There have been long long posts on different areas of the country holding flathead in different types of water. One thing rings out in all of them though. Look for structure then fish close to it. Many people will add lots of specifics to this but if you want to run out right now and fish I feel i've given you a decent idea on how to start. Have fun and let us know how it works out!
     

  3. enfausen

    enfausen New Member

    Messages:
    49
    State:
    Indiana (Rising Sun)
    I would say that using Blue Gill, or shad would be your best bet. With both you could catch blues, or flat heads. I use Kahle hooks, and I usually use a size 4/0 I have recently started using a 10/0 seems like a monster hook, but I have seen both small and large fish caught on them, better safe than sorry.
     
  4. river scum

    river scum New Member

    Messages:
    3,474
    State:
    hooterville indiana
    gills live and cut(fresh) on slip rig. fish jambs edies and creek mouths(especially after a rain). anything that blocks current can hold a flat or two. make sure you fish one bait rite next to shore, they cruse shore for baitfish. read back in the archives and you will learn loads to help you!
     
  5. Bacardipr05

    Bacardipr05 New Member

    Messages:
    1,424
    State:
    Pennsylvan
    Im with you channel cat I am channel fisherman but this summer started targeting flat heads. Still love my channel catting but wanted to add to my resume... You will find loads of info on here even found some one to show me some of the ropes (thanks phillycat). I was using a 4/0 Gammi Octopus(non circle) but my flat head was caught using an Eagle Claw 1/0 bait holder.... Good luck to you..
     
  6. s_man

    s_man New Member

    Messages:
    3,012
    State:
    south east ohio
    Spend a couple days trying to read all the posts on here and you will come away much more informed. The biggest thing is to use live bait and be patient. You will have to put in many nights without a hit at a spot then bam you'll connect. I started out under a low head dam, and a spot with lots of trees in the water and a nice deep channel along the bank. I bank fished those two spots maybe 50 times each in the first few years before I got an old boat, and I caught flatheads on like 1 outta 4 or 5 trips. And never one over 10lbs. But if you put in the time durring an entire season you will learn so much as to what types of baits they prefer, water levels they like, temps, The list goes on and on. Just keep going and you'll start to see patterns and prefered ways of doing things. Which is half the fun of actually catching them lol.
     
  7. Catcaller

    Catcaller New Member

    Messages:
    1,511
    State:
    SoutheastKansas
    Flathead are a funny quarry.

    They sometimes will literally pull your pole in when you're not looking...and other times they tap...5 minutes...tap...5 minutes...TAP...TUG...TUG...and then FINALLY run with it.

    Sometimes it's almost like fishing a plastic worm for bass...ya gotta wait for him to run with it.

    Can't go wrong with perch for bait...preferably live...but fresh dead is ok.

    Black perch or pumpkinseed are the most lively and durable...and are able to sustain on extended soaks.

    Use a bait fish from 2"-5" long and hook him right above the bottom anal fin if you're carolina rigging...due to he'll use less energy as he continues to swim upright instead of on his side when hooked beneath the dorsal fin.

    Just the opposite if you're bobber fishing...hook him below the dorsal...so's he stays upright and lively.

    Just take care to not sever the spinal cord with your hook...or he'll drown.

    Use as little weight as possible...whatever that may mean applied to your environment.

    Heavy current might call for up to 6 oz or more from the bank...or a piece of split in no current.

    Try a bobber in slow current...suspending your offering off the bottom.

    Concentrate on heavy duty gnarly structure to fish by...preferably near a creek or river mouth.

    Stumps...brushpiles...rootballs...rock piles...bridge pilings...log jams...beaver dams...docks...anywhere an ambush could occur.

    At night try riffles...as flathead notoriously patrol shallow water riffles for forage...cruising around looking for trouble....creeks branching off from a river are prime habitat as well.

    Most of all...PATIENCE!!

    It takes awhile to learn how to catch ol' yeller...it can be disheartening at times when you're a beginner.

    But the time always comes...you get that first big un' over 20 lb...and you're really hooked then.

    It just becomes a game of cat and mouse...sometimes something totally beyond your control will trigger a bite...such as a subtle rise in water levels following runoff after a rain or something like that.

    It's worth it in the end tho...a flathead hunter is a whole other breed of catfisherman.

    And it is definately the one that requires one to do his homework and utilizing a somewhat scientific approach if you wish success.
     
  8. Bacardipr05

    Bacardipr05 New Member

    Messages:
    1,424
    State:
    Pennsylvan
    What he said..........:wink:


     
  9. loanwizard

    loanwizard Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    3,297
    State:
    Coshocton,
    Welcome to the wonderful world of Flatheading! That post above me is fabulous and I won't try to top it. Flatheads like Current, Structure,and food. The more of all three you see, the better the condition that you'll find em.

    Flatheads are the supreme freshwater predator. They catch what they need and are very territorial. We have been taught that Channel cats will eat anything (most of the little ones do), but big Channels and Big flatheads prefer (demand) fresh. I won't go into the argument of live over cut because both have their place. If there is a ton of structure you can put a live bait on the edge to lure him out or you can vertically present a fresh cut piece right in the junk and try to hit him on the nose.

    Where does the bait go at night? Answer that and you'll find the great yellow hunter. Though large, the Flathead has a small profile and is OFTEN found in 1-3 feet of water. The baitfish feels safer in shallow water sometimes with nose to shore, and in structure. The hunter knows and follows.

    Flatheads metabolism slows in the fall. After it gets about 50 degrees, it is hard to notice a bite if indeed they do bite.

    That said, in the spring they are obviously ravenous.

    During the day they lay up next to a log or in the deepest water around. During the evening they leave that lair to hunt.

    So, if you know what they do and how they do it, look at your body of water and figure out the best spot that is accessible to you. There is nothing as valuable as local knowlege and a good place for info is at the local bait store.

    Good Luck and take a pic of the biggun for us.
     
  10. GMC FishHauler

    GMC FishHauler New Member

    Messages:
    1,335
    State:
    Waco, Texas, Un
    i like to fish for flats around rock piles and brush. I use a 6/0 or bigger hook. I like the kayles since they will hook themselves or let u hook them. I like to use 4-6" gills or some other type of baitfish. The hard thing is just the patients to wait for the flats to find ur bait.
     
  11. Baitkiller

    Baitkiller New Member

    Messages:
    1,029
    State:
    Akron, Ohio
    Catcaller hit a great point about the tap tap thing!! Now the BUT...rare but sometimes they will just place a bait in their mouth and NOT RUN or move..sometimes.

    I get 4 times more Flats on Cut Shad than live....BUT thats the waters I fish, the N E section of the Ohio River in Ohio. I just started fishing another area of the Ohio River and all they want there is Skipjack and will not touch Shad..."go figure"!

    The Point is YOU FIND what baits work the best in the waters YOU fish!!!

    Go to the Library and read up on everything on Flats etc., etc..

    U do noy have to use a baitcaster or let them run if u do not want to.

    "Good Hunting" and let us know how it goes and keep asking.

    :006:
     
  12. SpoonieKing

    SpoonieKing New Member

    Messages:
    125
    State:
    STL Missouri
    I'm right with u on being a new flathead fisherman. I'm new here also and find the people here very informative and helpful. Just remember that bank fishing is a task in itself. I keep things simple. find the nearest school of bait~catch some...and look for a nice deep hole or highly wooded area to fish. don't be afraid to walk a little to find the best holes either. good luck~sk
     
  13. jagdoctor1

    jagdoctor1 New Member

    Messages:
    708
    State:
    CA/AZ
    Thanks! the post got me out last night and though I had no Flathead action I caught an impressive channel and remembered how much I love this and how hooked I have been in the past. I spent all summer after Mr Flat and did pretty good. I've given up pretty much every other kind of fishing as none of it seems as challenging and rewarding as having something haul ass with a bluegill you thought was big enough to fry.
     
  14. jtrew

    jtrew New Member

    Messages:
    4,404
    State:
    Little Rock, AR
    Bullheads or small channel cats often make a good flathead bait, too. This isn't legal in some states, but Tennessee allows the use of gamefish for bait, provided it was legally caught. Here in Arkansas, we can use the bullheads, but not the channel cats.
     
  15. Blacky

    Blacky New Member

    Messages:
    10,351
    State:
    Philadelphia, P
    You must also have alot of time and patience.

    Some days they will find you, most days you have to find them.
     
  16. Catcaller

    Catcaller New Member

    Messages:
    1,511
    State:
    SoutheastKansas
    This is true...flathead will go into a "hibernation" mode during the coldest months.

    Snagging at this time can be devastating to a local population of flathead...as in a river they will seek out the deepest water they can find that still has current breaks...and line up like cord wood along the bottom for weeks or months at a time.

    Hence their nickname "mossy back"...named due to the moss that would accrue on their backs from sitting dormant for so long in cold water.

    One key thing to remember about this characteristic of a flathead is that during a stretch of warm days during otherwise cold weather...it might only take a couple days of unseasonably warm temps to temporarily coax a hibernating flat from his winter lair to feed. They just can't help themselves.

    A warming trend is a golden opportunity to nail a hungry flathead...and keep in mind that they will be seeking out smaller sized offerings during this time due to the fact that it takes less energy to digest when their metabolism is at its slowest point of the year.

    A smaller sized meal will get it by longer in the colder months than it would in the warmer conditions.

    3 years ago I caught a 39 lb flathead...as well as several nice channel up to 12 lb... while whitebass/hybrid/walleye fishing on a 1/8 oz jighead tipped with a 2" creek chub that I had cast netted by the dam earlier in the day.

    They were all a helluva fight on a 7 1/2' ML graphite spinning rod. (Luckily I was using 20 lb Power Pro braid line)

    The water temp was in the upper 40's at the time according to my journal.

    Which brings me to another useful tool for the beginner and the avid as well.

    ALWAYS in a spiral notebook write down the date...time...temp...water temp...wind prescence...water levels...water clarity...current velocity...location...type of structure...depth fish was caught...species targeted...species caught...bait used...size of bait...how you caught the bait...where you caught the bait...rigging used...how much weight...type/color/size of line used...rod/reel specs...ANY relevant information is EXTREMELY helpful later on down the road when trying to figure out patterns to fish by during harder times.

    Accompanying pictures of the trip also help to jog the memory about what was working that day...and JUST as importantly what WASN'T working.

    A good pictoral and descriptive journal can be the difference at times between your catching fish...and being just another "joe" in the crowd that's NOT catching fish.

    I couldn't begin to tell you how many times my fishing partner and I have been the ONLY sob's on the water getting any action.

    Some wish they could steal our thunder...others dislike us for it...sometimes strongly...Lol.

    But the fact of the matter is...they don't or won't go to the lengths that we go to in order to figure out just what's going on down there in aqua land.

    We've flipped our share of rocks in the past...and now it's paying off.

    Paying attention to the physics of what we're attempting to do, and the details surrounding the situation is what sets us apart...along with 30 years plus of experience apiece of being on the water.

    Experience will come as water goes under the bridge...in the meantime however...help yourself along by keeping meticulous records of your fishing trips.

    It can be a pain in the a$$ sometimes keeping the books current...but it pays off in the long run.

    As a beginner...you need all the help that you can get...and sometimes your best help is your past experience.
     
  17. Catcaller

    Catcaller New Member

    Messages:
    1,511
    State:
    SoutheastKansas
    A great point! Match the hatch is sound advice.

    The fish in any one given location have their favorite on the menu...just like I ALWAYS get the Ultimate Feast with a extra side of crablegs and a big ol' Lotta Colada or two...lol...made with Bacardi 151 instead of dry when we eat at Red Lobster.

    I know what I like...and so do the indigenous fish that live there.

    Not only do I usually attempt to catch local baitfish...I ALSO take the time to drop a line in where I caught my baitfish after I put up the cast net.

    The catfish tend to follow these moving smorgasboards of schooled bait fish...nabbing a few injured specimins off the bottom after they are continually pounded by ravenous walleye, striper, white bass, and hybrids.

    Picking up the easy injured leftovers with minimal effort/energy level expended is a recurring theme with big flats and blues.
     
  18. loanwizard

    loanwizard Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    3,297
    State:
    Coshocton,
    Brian, what size jigheads do you use and would a 3 oz egg sinker, hook with a small piece of cut shad on it work?
     
  19. john catfish young

    john catfish young New Member

    Messages:
    3,070
    State:
    Kentucky
    Hey Blake,
    When looking for a good flathead bait, live bluegill are hard to beat. Live shad, shiners, chubs small fish all work well. Its all about being in the right place at the right time. Patience is just as equally important. I recomend at least 30 lb. line with a # 7-#10 size hook. Do you fish in Tennessee? If you do I can put you on a few good locations. Proven spots on Old Hickory Lake.
     
  20. Catcaller

    Catcaller New Member

    Messages:
    1,511
    State:
    SoutheastKansas
    Shawn...

    The jig head I prefer over ALL others...and believe me...I have tried them ALL...is a custom poured 1/8 oz jighead WITHOUT a retainer on it. (The little fella that helps you keep your plastic grub body on the jig...you won't be needing that with a natural baitfish tip)

    I have to make these myself due to the impossible nature of finding a jighead made commercially with the type of hook I prefer.

    That hook is a Gamakatsu 2/0 light wire...it is MUCH MUCH stroger than a typical Mustad or eagle Claw hook that comes on a standard commercial JH...and is also two sizes larger than the default hook that comes on store bought JH's of the 1/8 oz. size.

    I require the heavier hook due to the real potential to nail a tackle busting 20 lb Wiper (The gamest fish out there pound for pound IMO)...as well as the occasional bonus catfish.

    I got sick of getting my hook straightened by these warriors from hell...and upgraded my tackle selection.

    When I couldn't find what I wanted commercially...I went about making it happen myself....since then I have been straightened ZERO times in over 7 years.

    There is a downfall tho...when I get snagged...and I ALWAYS am getting snagged on rocks (If you call a VW sized rock a rock)...it's harder to break off the line. (I typically use 20-40 lb smaller diameter Power Pro braid line)

    But...as anyone who uses braid knows...a rock will cut braid line if ya try hard enough. Just make sure and check your line continuously for nicks and cuts...retying when necessary.

    Don't get lazy about it...as it's easy to do when you're seeking "just one more cast"....or you'll end up potentially losing a fish of a lifetime when it was easily preventable. (Trust me...unfortunately I speak from experience :angry:)

    I always carry a good pair of pliers to straighten back any hooks I straighten after getting snagged up and salvaging my rig....just don't weaken your hook by trying to be too stingy to go ahead and replace it as needed. (Another voice of experience...Grrrr)

    A rubber bodied bait such as a grub, a little fishie, or a swimn minnow is a GOOD bait...but a natural baitfish tipped on your jig and retrieved just as you would a lure...is a GREAT bait.

    Plus you get the added bonus factors of scent, taste, and natural feel with a real baitfish....by the time they figure out that they need to be spitting out your lure...it's FAR too late. A couple extra seconds sometimes means everything.

    As far as the carolina rigged jighead with cut shad on it? (I'm assuming that's what you mean)

    Oh absolutely it works. I have tried small pieces of cutbait on my jigheads with great success for whitebass/hybrids and catch several collateral channel and flathead on them as well in the process every year during the spawning run of the whitebass....and usually it's a decent sized cat when it does happen.

    It brings to the table the whole scent/taste thing again.

    In murky water...sometimes in the Neosho its coffee colored water...scent plays a HUGE factor...as does a catfishes ability to sense electrical impulses in the nervous systems of their prey.

    I sometimes use as large as I can find live wild shiners or creek chubs on my jighead suspended close under a balloon. That's sometimes a dynamite call when the hybrids are feeding on the surface.

    I will at times use a surface popper such as an Excalibur spitting image in shad color...with a stinger attached to the rear hook with a small chunk of shad...or even a small live shad, shiner, or chub.

    The surface noise attracts them...and the live offering draws them in.

    It's the ultimate bobber when the time is right...and the topwater bite is on.

    Much more than once I've caught multiple fish on that rig at one time.

    My personal best was three at once...one on the stinger...and one at each end of the popper itself.

    Another thing that works are those casting "popper" floats that the guys use for redfish down in the gulf.

    You chug them periodically...and they make a popping noise as the float slides up and down between two stoppers.

    And as a bonus...since we're already talking about balloons and floats...here is a tip I picked up via this site years ago by a knowledgable fella when it was previously the BOC...I have tested this and it absolutely DOES work as advertised.

    When whitebass and wiper fishing it is well known that the schools come and go...resulting in a lull in the action between gigs.

    Take a few fish you catch...as long as this is legal in your state...and attach a suitable length of 4 lb line to a balloon on one end...and a small trout hook on the other end.

    Place the hook in the fish's mouth...and release it.

    It will return back to the school...and then you have the 411 on that school and its wherabouts.

    Keep in mind that like sized fish school togther...big with big...med. with med....and small with small.

    True sometimes these schools overlap...but they are nonetheless still the case.

    Not only does this work with whitebass and hybrids...it ALSO works with crappie. :wink: