Tidal River Flathead Catfish

Discussion in 'Flathead Catfish' started by Blacky, Mar 22, 2006.

  1. Blacky

    Blacky New Member

    Philadelphia, P
    One of my flathead spot on the lower Schuykill River is tidal. Does anyone have any experience on tidal river flatheads? Would a incoming or outgoing tide be better? One thing I figured out is that they will come out and roam the sandy areas on an incoming tide at NIGHT ONLY!!!! Another question is that when they hold up in boulders and trees and the tide goes out, where do they go?????


  2. blackwaterkatz

    blackwaterkatz Active Member

    Andrews, SC
    I don't fish the tide waters a lot for cats, although I do for other species. This is my take:
    I like to fish the last half of the rising tide, and then the falling tide until the water drops away from the marsh, then move to deep holes nearby, especially if there is a rapid dropoff.
    As low tide approaches, most of the bait has left the marshes, my experience is that the cats go into deeper holes, usually near the areas where they feed, and they like to have some structure, such as logs, boulders, etc., but anything to break the current will attract them. A slight depression, even 1' deep will often hold fish. At slack tide, they will often scatter out and feed on the surrounding flats, but are really hard to locate then. That's when I anchor and put several rods out from deep to shallow.

  3. JAinSC

    JAinSC Active Member

    South Carolina
    I know it's a cop out answer, but the best answer I can give you is "it depends."

    I fish flatheads in tidewater all the time. Tidal freshwater is a great area, lots of bait (all the usual freshwater bait plus shrimp and crabs and mullet and menhaden, etc. Plus, the water stays well mixed from the tides. Plus, the changing water levels tend to move fish around. If things are dear, you can always wait and something always changes with the change of the tide. Sometimes that's not so great. I fish blue cats in tidewater on the Cooper River and even when you do get on fish, they never stay in one place for long, because the current is always changing.

    Anyway, back to your question: I have some spots that I like better on the flood tide and some on the ebb. Mostly thats a matter of trial and error, but some of it is pretty obvious. One spot I fish is casting toward a big downed cypress tree. You can only do it right on the flood tide. Some spots are fishing the head of a hole - the head on the ebb tide turns into the tail on a flood tide.

    One thing you might not think of, is the areas of maximum current change depending on which way the tide is flowing. This is kind of hard to explain until you see it, but a lot of places the current runs hardest on one bank on the flood tide and on the other bank on the ebb tide. Like on the ebb there will be hard current on the west bank with lighter current (or even an eddy) on the east bank. On the flood tide, not only is the current flowing in the opposite direction, but the heaviest current is on the other side of the river. Since flatheads often like to get out of the heavy flow (or if the flow is all pretty light, maybe get into a bit more flow) this can be important.