Theory I'm working on - big flathead catfish in open water

Discussion in 'Flathead Catfish' started by JAinSC, Jun 26, 2006.

  1. JAinSC

    JAinSC Active Member

    Messages:
    1,514
    State:
    South Carolina
    I've been thinking (uh oh!! :tounge_out:)

    Fishing in a smallish river (maybe 75 yards wide on average), a couple of my biggest flatheads (40 pounds plus) have come from open water - baits that I threw out toward mid river, so they were sitting in the open maybe 50 feet from the bank. Add to this the new report of the new GA state record flathead and another good one a friend told me of catching recently that were caught around sandbars in pretty much open water - not on the bank/not next to obvious cover.

    Flatheads often hunt along cover or along the bank looking for food. (Not a theory - I think this is pretty well accepted.) But what kind of food will they find there? Sunfish. At least in my river, that's what's in the brush and cover. Now, flatheads love sunfish and eat 'em up, but they are basically snack size for a good big fish. What if they want a bigger meal?

    OK, here's the theory: Maybe these bigger flatheads are cruising open water seeking the bigger prey that are out there, like suckers or small carp or other smaller catfish. (A couple of times I have seen 40 pound plus flatheads that had eaten blue cats big enough that 5 or 6 inches of the blue's tail were still visible in the flathead's throat - like 3 or 4 pound blues! Ouch!) Maybe this is not terribly revolutionary, but what do you think? Are the biggest flatheads more likely to be out in the open water in search of the bigger prey that hang out out there?
     
  2. Gone fishin 4 kittys

    Gone fishin 4 kittys New Member

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    678
    State:
    Pittsburgh, PA
    It makes sense to me! But in no way am I flathead expert!!



    Josh
     

  3. field989

    field989 New Member

    Messages:
    896
    State:
    east central indiana
    hmmm, that makes snese, ill have to give that a try, cause that seems reasonable

    but what about the time of day?
     
  4. Gone fishin 4 kittys

    Gone fishin 4 kittys New Member

    Messages:
    678
    State:
    Pittsburgh, PA
    I would try at night even though they are always feeding I think that eat more and hunt more at night.


    Josh
     
  5. Redd

    Redd New Member

    Messages:
    790
    State:
    Southeast Kansas
    That's a lot of thinkin' you just done there, buddy. I hope you had enough tylenol to ease the pain that came afterwards:big_smile:. But, you thinkin' got me to thinkin'...that open structureless water you're talkin' about, could it have been ledges you're fishin'? That would make sense to me. And the open sand flats you mentioned sounds like a great place to go during the night, when the flats are on the prowl lookin' for the bigger bait eating the smaller bait(carp and smaller cats eating little baby boogers and shad). You gotta let me know how your theory works. I'll probably give it a try too, and if I do, then I'll fill ya in on how it went.

    -Red
     
  6. MRR

    MRR New Member

    Messages:
    4,947
    State:
    Louisiana,Mo.
    :lol: LOL that sounds like a pretty good theroy to me. I have often wondered if you couldn't catch flats in open water. Let us know how your way of thinking works out. If you have seen them there then you know sooner or later they are gonna bite. Best of luck on your Quest.
     
  7. JAinSC

    JAinSC Active Member

    Messages:
    1,514
    State:
    South Carolina
    By the way - I'm talking about night. Basically, any time I'm talking about flatheads, I always talking about nighttime.

    In a way I am constantly testing the theory - this theory of mine, which is to say a theory I have deveolped, the theory of my own conceptualiziation, that is - because whenever i anchor and set up to fish (generally along the bank), I always throw one bait out toward the middle of the river. And, as I meant to say, I have caught some of my best flatheads that way.

    another BTW - no ledge. Not in this river. Maybe a gentle drop off sometimes, from 5 to 8 feet maybe . . .
     
  8. EsoxJohnny

    EsoxJohnny New Member

    Messages:
    132
    State:
    Indiana
    I've said many times that open water is underrated. Shallow water with structure will always produce fish, but I all too often see people ignore excellent open water fishing just because they are set in their ways. If you are fishing a system with a large shad population then you need to learn when and where to find the shad. Often that location is deep, open water.
     
  9. FishMan

    FishMan New Member

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    2,293
    State:
    Tennessee
    I am kind of like you,I think it sounds good. Even more so in the size river you speak of.
     
  10. Derd

    Derd New Member

    Messages:
    3
    State:
    Indiana
    My guess is that the current in the middle of the river is just right, and there may be subtle bottom contours or maybe not. If the current is right then the flatheads may position themselves there to ambush prey.
     
  11. KansasKatter

    KansasKatter New Member

    Messages:
    807
    State:
    Wichita Kansas
    Makes sense to me to. My biggest flatheads have been on trot lines in a river similar to size that you are talking about. Both flats were caught on hooks in the middle of the trot line, not close to the bank.

    Also, during the summer months, I fish mainly riffles and the holes just below riffles in water between waist and chest deep in this same river. While sitting on the riffles, at night the carp almost kill themeselves trying to swim up the riffles, in water about 6" deep and shallower. My dad used to tell me something had to be chasing them to make them stay up so shallow like that. Low and behold last summer, just after dark I was sitting in my lawn chair in the riffles, and a medium size carp (about 5 lbs) was just swimming his guts out trying to make it up the riffle. He would swim like heck, with his back all the way out of the water and just try to stay there. He would get exhausted and drift back to about a foot of water. After about an hour of this, he was just starting to drift down again when WHAM!!! The biggest flathead I have EVER seen made a boil in the water that almost put my lantern out, and just like that the carp was gone! The head on this fish was prbably 2' wide, not joke, and his dorsal fin was bigger than my hand! I guess he was probably around 80lbs.

    I guess ol' dad knew what he was talking about!
     
  12. FlatheadMan

    FlatheadMan New Member

    Messages:
    177
    State:
    Freedom,Pa
    all my big flatts have been caught in deep open water the section of the ohio I fish just doesnt have the cover or wide bends log jams ,Ect but the main channel is around 27ft and we look for the 40ft to 50ft holes in the main or secondary channel and do well old locks that have been flooded over are the only cover most of are holes are also sandy bottom.
     
  13. I often catch flatties on the middle hooks on my lines out in open water. I can't really compare as I don't run lines in woody cover though I do catch them R&R in woody cover.
    I have often wondered if the open water potential of flatties is under rated.
    When you look at how a flattie is built it is obvious that they are a strike from below predator. Woody cover does not provide the open water column above for efficient hunting. It does provide shelter and protection so there will always be flatties there. It would not suprise me at all if it is found that flatties often move out from cover and cruise the lower depths (maybe focusing on bottom structure and current breaks) in fairly open water. This allows them to "hide" in the depths and become just more "bottom clutter" while all the time being able to strike prey that would be "skylined" against the lighter colored water's surface.
     
  14. flathunter

    flathunter New Member

    Messages:
    5,723
    State:
    Ohio
    I think most of my bigger flatheads have came from open water, especially prespawn.
     
  15. KansasKatter

    KansasKatter New Member

    Messages:
    807
    State:
    Wichita Kansas
    I forgot to mention in my post above that the Carp I am speaking of are almost ALL towards the middle of the river, coming directly out of the open water of the river. I agree with the concept they may hang around cover all day, or while not feeding, but they have to at least cross open waters to hunt for food.
     
  16. RPnKC

    RPnKC New Member

    Messages:
    399
    State:
    Kansas
    Wouldn't it be great if we could tag fish with a radio transmitter and track their movement? I've seen it, and the results, of tagging Blue Marlin, very interesting. Of course there is no $$$$ in flatheads, so I doubt any scientific research "Jacque Cousteau" types would be interested.:lol:
     
  17. jim

    jim New Member

    Messages:
    2,579
    State:
    Jacksonville NC
    Mr Ed Davis of Fayetteville ,who held many line class catfish records used 2lb carp, Gizzard shad etc when fishing the Cape Fear river.He would anchor at the top of a hole and fan cast these baits under floats to the deep/shallow breaks.This is open water and I don't recall him ever saying he fished specific shoreline cover etc.His theory was that the big fish held in the deeper holes and actively cruised for available forage at night.In a smaller river I would fan cast those baits all across the hole and not worry about the shoreline structure so much.If he is holed up in there he will come cruising at night.:cool2: :big_smile:
     
  18. RPnKC

    RPnKC New Member

    Messages:
    399
    State:
    Kansas
    Jeff, Do you want to share the GPS coordinates for where that monster flat showed himself?:lol:
     
  19. KansasKatter

    KansasKatter New Member

    Messages:
    807
    State:
    Wichita Kansas
    LOL Not in a million years! Even if I had it! LOL This was when I was a senior in HS, way before anyone even knew what the heck GPS stood for. I will tell you it was in a VERY secluded set of riffles on the Walnut River though, you can start you hunt there! :lol:
     
  20. JAinSC

    JAinSC Active Member

    Messages:
    1,514
    State:
    South Carolina
    Yeah, the fish I am talking about have come from maybe 5 or 6 feet of water, basically on a sand flat near mid river - maybe 1/3 of the way over.

    I don't know if they are actively out there cruising looking for a meal, or if they just happen to be movving through. Seems like these fish ahve been prespawn, so maybe they are just traveling by. Anyway, a bait anchored out there in the middle of a bunch of sand is pretty hard to miss and I guess it's an easy snack.

    How did this start? Oh yeah - maybe they are out there looking for bigger baits? No real shad population in the river I'm fishin, but out there in the open seems to be where the smaller blue cats are. Not sure about suckers and small carp. They certainly could be out there at night?