Tactical question for early spring flats

Discussion in 'Flathead Catfish' started by SangamonCatKiller, Feb 13, 2008.

  1. SangamonCatKiller

    SangamonCatKiller New Member

    Messages:
    488
    State:
    central illinois
    Okay, so heres my situation for the upcoming fishing season. I want to try something new and get out on the water a little early this season, in hopes of landing a EARLY season flathead. The river im fishing probably averages 4 ft. of depth for the most part. When winter hits the fish are obviously going to need to find deeper water. I fish downstream from the spillway a good 15 miles most seasons, as iv'e walked the majority of the banks scouting for the best possilbe areas. They are always gold come april! Now about 2 miles downstream of the spillway there is a gravel pit, it connects with the river in only one spot, allowing for water to pass through as it has dug at least a 6ft deep trench over the years. I would assume that there is some very, very deep water in the gravel pit, and I am suspecting that they are wintering in this pit, it is huge and it is deep. NOw I need some way of targeting these guys as they make there move towards the hot spots that i fish later in the spring. I fish bank so I am limited on what i can do to target them. Should i try and find some decent cover locations between there and my spots? Or just randomly cast lines along the trench inlet, or even directly into the pit???? Im thinking I could find a few good location about a half a mile downstream of the pit there is some good depth and good cover, help>>>
     
  2. s_man

    s_man New Member

    Messages:
    3,012
    State:
    south east ohio
    Nick, I am envious. Is the gravel pit like a pond connected to the river? Does it get any current running thru or just connected? If you can fish this "pond" I would start as soon as the crappie or suckers move in to spawn. Even carp spawn in cold water. Use those kinds of baits in addition to cut shad or some such like gills or suckers. If you can only target the spot where the pond meets the river, then do that. They will be moving either into the pond or out of it. Depending where they are actually wintering at. Sounds like you have a super spot to try this spring. Let me know how you do would ya?
     

  3. SangamonCatKiller

    SangamonCatKiller New Member

    Messages:
    488
    State:
    central illinois
    Thanks, and yes there is definitely an abundance of carp, i noticed last summer they love the spot where the waters meet up. I would guess maybe a little current does go thru cuz' of the deep channel it has dug up. Now how to go about getting some of those baby carp??? I know i fire spot for 6" creek chubs, maybe i'll try that?
     
  4. river scum

    river scum New Member

    Messages:
    3,474
    State:
    hooterville indiana
    i find the cats go up river in the spring. but if they have real good cover and maybe a creek or bay down river that brings warm water they mite gather there. can you tell us where this is so we can look it over on google earth? i understand if you dont want to say bro., though you mite get better sudjestions with a better understanding of your area.

    in spring(rite after the ice melts!) i find channels way up in skinny water bays that are fed by a creek. after a rain or on a very warm sunny day especially.
     
  5. comanchero

    comanchero New Member

    Messages:
    119
    State:
    Minnesota
    The gravel pit you mention may hold some wintering cats. I'm not sure I would put a lot of effort into trying to fish that area though. From what you describe I would recommend concentrating your effort near the dam and spillway you mentioned. You should have a good flathead population wintering near the dam plus as the water warms the flats will start to leave other wintering areas and will move upstream towards the dam in search of food. There should be a good forage base near the dam (shad, suckers, white bass, etc) that will draw in cats.

    Your key to start chasing spring time flatheads should be rising water temperatures. When the water warms to that magic 50 degree mark the flatheads will start to move to pre-spawn locations in search of food. That dam area will concentrate catfish as they move upriver and it should have good forage that will draw cats. If you are looking for locations on your river system that concentrates springtime cats - I would focus on the dam and spillway that you mentioned in your post.

    You said you are fishing from the shore? I would recommend looking for good shorefishing areas near the dam. Look for ways to present your baits along current seams that you can cast to from the shore. Those cats are going to be hunting and working along current seams looking for bait floating by. I'll bet there are other catfisherman that work that area - it might be worth the effort to meet a few and find out what kind of bait presentations they are using.
     
  6. Reel_Blues

    Reel_Blues New Member

    Messages:
    824
    State:
    Virginia
    I agree with steve stick to the dam and spillway.
     
  7. SangamonCatKiller

    SangamonCatKiller New Member

    Messages:
    488
    State:
    central illinois
    Its just that its so vast, and overfished.... I have never put much effort into fishing it.
     
  8. SangamonCatKiller

    SangamonCatKiller New Member

    Messages:
    488
    State:
    central illinois
  9. comanchero

    comanchero New Member

    Messages:
    119
    State:
    Minnesota
    Nick - A large dam is an intimidating piece of water but it also holds a lot of fish. It may seem like it gets fished a lot but I wouldn't worry about it being overfished. In the springtime a lot of fish especially catfish are in their pre-spawn feeding frenzy and are going to move upstream and become concentrated in that large piece of water.

    You need to find shore locations that will allow you to cast a bait presentation into likely looking spots along current seams and along current breaks. In the spring you can take flats on both live bait and cut bait presentations. There is a good thread on this forum titled "Fishing for flatheads in spillways". You may get some good ideas there on what kind of presentations to use. There also some good In-Fisherman videos and other videos out there that cover tactics and techniques for fishing near dams and spillways.

    Don't be run off by a lot of fisherman fishing in this general area. They are there for a reason - big fish are in the vicinity. You just need to become the best fisherman of all those fishing that spot. A lot of people fish - not all of them are good fishermen.
     
  10. skawez

    skawez Member

    Messages:
    720
    State:
    Hickman, Ne
    Name:
    Steve
    if your going to fish the pit BE EXTREMELY CAREFUL even if they are done pumping sand and or gravel out of the pits they are prone to slides. when they pump these pits to get out the rock/sand along the banks it usually ends with a over bite/ cliff that you cant see and too much even a little weight on the shore can and has caused the fishermen / employee to slide into the pit along with everything else.. its not a get wet climb out thing quite a few people have been killed this way here in nebraska. i have access to quite a few of these and i wont fish them any more 3 of the 5 i have access to have already claimed lives in this way.. BE CAREFUL.
     
  11. jason berry

    jason berry New Member

    Messages:
    819
    State:
    Evansville
    Try the spillway and follow the crappie.
     
  12. bigfish08

    bigfish08 New Member

    Messages:
    375
    State:
    ohio
    there is a spot where a lake connects to the gmr here in ohio, its very puzzling... as far as early flats go just find your deepest hole in your river system with some cover on the bottom, and fish it with your traditional live baits.. key would be deep water when fishing early..
     
  13. s_man

    s_man New Member

    Messages:
    3,012
    State:
    south east ohio
    Nick, I have driven up to a dam I like to fish flatheads for on a holiday weekend after work. I get out and walk along the 20 or 30 people lining the bank and ask what they are fishing for, the ones that say catfish I talk to a little more to see if they have caught any. The usual answer is no, or just a couple little ones. So I dig around in the little box I carry under the seat of my truck and bring out a 10/0 hook a 6oz sinker and a swivel and bead and say do you wanna try for a big one? After they say yea I'll tie that on their line, and get my net out and catch a big shad and toss it out where they should be fishing and most times they will catch the biggest flathead they ever seen. These are usually 5 to 25 pounds. But if you ain't using the correct bait, or casting to the right spot in the spillway, you will never catch what you seek.
    I'm just saying, even though everyone is fishing there not all of them know what they are doing. Or they might be after a different species altogether.
    Go up to the dam when its the least crowded and experiment with locations, rigs, baits etc. You will soon figure out the rythm of the fish.
     
  14. Blacky

    Blacky New Member

    Messages:
    10,351
    State:
    Philadelphia, P
    Skip's right!

    You can always tell a real catfisherman by his equipment, bait, and techniques.
     
  15. DAREWOOD11

    DAREWOOD11 Member

    Messages:
    793
    State:
    IOWA
    I FISH AT A BIG DAM ON THE DES MOINES RIVER IN IOWA...ITS RED ROCK LAKE DAM...THERE ARE 2 PLACES WHERE THE CURRENT SWIRLS AND IT GOES IN A CIRCLE...IT COMES STRAIGHT OUT BUT THE RIVER LOOKS LIKE IT HAS 2 HIPS RITE AFTER THE HYDRO IF U KNOW WAT I MEAN AND AND THE WATER SWIRLS INTO THOSE AREAS...WOULD THOSE BE GOOD SPOTS TO FISH??? WHERE SHOULD I FISH IN THIS SECTION OF RIVER? CAN U GUYS HELP ME TOO...THANKS
     
  16. s_man

    s_man New Member

    Messages:
    3,012
    State:
    south east ohio
    Andy, that swirl is an eddy. Any time you find an eddy there will be all species of fish in there cause the current is reversing directions and is no way as strong as the main current. So fish stage there since they don't have to expend as much energy to hold, then just wait for a meal to float by. So yes that would be a great place to fish.
     
  17. river scum

    river scum New Member

    Messages:
    3,474
    State:
    hooterville indiana
    that is good looking possible wintering hole. i would start the season by fishing the entrence to the pit. when they start to move out of there you will get bit. as for the dam they are rite most guys will toss out a piece of liver and let it set for hours. watch the guys with the big rods and see what they do and talk to them as skip said. just keep in mind what you hear mite be far from the truth lol. if the dam gets that crowded you mite want to find current breaks down stream a bit to fish. creek mouths,log jambs,bridge pillons could all hold fish at times. unfortunatly "google earth" sucks in that area, cant see good enough to say check this spot or that. in some places "google earth" will alow you to see everything you need to even eddies!
     
  18. river scum

    river scum New Member

    Messages:
    3,474
    State:
    hooterville indiana

    again google earth isnt a good tool for your area. i dont know why it isnt the same quality all over the country. anyhow the same goes there too. find current seams and eddies. fish behind things thatdivert the current. think about where you would sit and wait for a meal to be washed to you, think like a cat. lol if you find slack water chances are it will hold bait fish sometime or another. also move around and check many areas in a day. you will soon find spots that produce more than others for you. then study them to figure out why the fish are there!

    dont get stuck fishing the dam either i see plenty of good places down your river. you have sand bars, river bends, creeks, bridges, log jambs(im guessing) all of those things divert current and can hold fish. sometimes the harder a spot is to get to the better it is! i never fish the dam on my best flathead river because there is much more and better cover and stucture down river. also because its in the middle of crack town, and i dont like crackheads as much as flatheads. lol
     
  19. Blacky

    Blacky New Member

    Messages:
    10,351
    State:
    Philadelphia, P
    In april, i plan on fishing the deepest water using small pieces of cutbait. As the water temps rise, so will the size and liveness of my bait.
     
  20. DAREWOOD11

    DAREWOOD11 Member

    Messages:
    793
    State:
    IOWA
    THANKS FOR YOUR HELP TIM...I DIDNT USE TO HAVE A BOAT BUT THIS YEAR I DO SO YEA I WILL BE FISHING LESS AT THE DAM AND MORE DOWNRIVER...THANKS FOR YOUR HELP!