tough flathead catfish...

Discussion in 'Flathead Catfish' started by Shawn, Jan 3, 2008.

  1. Shawn

    Shawn New Member

    Messages:
    408
    State:
    Illinois
    I know this is not a new topic, and you may not think this is the case, but what makes flatheads so much more tough to catch than channels and blues.

    Of course, there's the obvious thing that channels and blues eat almost anything, and more frequently.

    However, Flatheads are so habitat specific throughout the late spring and summer - they get very comfortable hanging out in the wood cover, and don't travel much like spring and fall. Based on this, you would think locating them shoulnd't be difficult.

    But, I think a lot of catfish guys have a hard time catching numbers of flatheads, especially the big ones. For me, a few fish in a night where there were 4 or 5 pick-ups would be a good night.

    Shawn
     
  2. Dan the Fisherman

    Dan the Fisherman New Member

    Messages:
    169
    State:
    Ramsey, Illinois
    I have never had a night with 2 rods out, that I have been able to get more than 4 or 5 pickups in a single night. The big smile can be a challenge, but those pickups can wear out your arms. I am always satisfied just pulling in one 50# plus fish in a night. Actually, if I land one out of three trips to the lake, I'm happy. I have gotten to the point that I can consistently catch the flats, but never caught more than two in one night. I guess I am in the same rut as you. Maybe someone out there can help both of us.
     

  3. poisonpits

    poisonpits Well-Known Member Supporting Member

    Messages:
    9,758
    State:
    arkansas
    Name:
    johnnie
    ive thought a lot bout this problem and i have a thery.blues and channels have small mouths compared to their body size so they eat smaller meals.they also spend a lot of time in moving water so they burn more calories.flatheads as a whole,there are exceptions,have a mouth that lets them eat very large meals then they go find a place out of the currant and lay up.that means they dont burn as much calories so they dont eat as much.if you have 2 kinds of fish eating 10 times as often you are going to catch 10 times as many of thoes fish.and thats if you have an equal amount of each speciesh.but i aint no genis i could be wrong.lol
     
  4. JAinSC

    JAinSC Active Member

    Messages:
    1,514
    State:
    South Carolina
    I really believe that mobility is the key to numbers for me - at least on the river that I fish most frequently. I've gone off on this theory before, but here goes again:

    Like you said, especially in the spring the fish move more and you can stay put in one or two good spots and wait for the fish to come to you - that's good times. Much of the year, though, they don't move much. Maybe they come out and prowl a bit at dusk, and then they settle into a nice spot and sit for most of the night. They will feed, but they are waiting for the food to come to them. If you put a bait around them, they'll take it. Therefore, if you sit in one spot, you are only gouing to catch the fish in that spot. Many times I get a fish or two within 20 minutes of setting up in a new spot (sometimes before I even get to sit down), and then nothing. I am convinced that I throw the baits out and the fish that are close enough to sense them (whether by sound or feel or whatever) come and eat. But there are only a fish a two in that range. After that you are just waiting and hoping another fish will come along.

    I have discovered that by moving around every 30 to 45 minutes, I can often increase my total for a night (dusk until maybe 3:00 AM) from an average of 2 fish to 4 or 5 fish.

    So, I guess I'm saying that I agree with everything that's been said so far. I think the fact that flatheads are more ambush predators and therefore most of the time you have to go to them makes them tougher. I also believe that they will take a large meal and then not have to feed again for a couple of days. I have seen 40 to 50 (or bigger) pound class flatheads with the tails of blue cats in their throats that looked to be about 4 or 5 pounds! The meal was so big they couldn't even get the whole thing in their stomach!
     
  5. catfishrollo

    catfishrollo New Member

    Messages:
    6,894
    State:
    Ohio
    flats are a different fish than channels and blues obviously. i think alot has to do with their attitudes. flats can be aggressive feeders as channel and blues are, but they are so unpredictable.. locating flats is only the beginning. i have fished many of nights to catch good flats, size and numbers to come back the second night and get shut out! they are still their, but maybe not in the feeding zones as the night before. If you fish river systems like mine that have great numbers of channel cats, it make it difficult to fish anything but livebaits at night for flats.. we do catch flats on cutbaits, etc. but, there are soo many channels that simply beat the flats to it, that you deal with them all-night.. like JAinSC said, if you know the areas where these fish are, and have an idea of their movements to feed after dark, fish an area and move! don't sit all-night waiting.. some nights are good nights to sit, but i have found if you become more mobile and have an A, B, C, even D plan before you start that night, your nights become more productive.. keep fishing them livebaits, and be versatile...you will never probably profile them the same as channels. But, your catching of them will increase...goodluck..rollo
     
  6. jagdoctor1

    jagdoctor1 New Member

    Messages:
    708
    State:
    CA/AZ
    These are all good points! I would like to add one more point to it though. Very simply to catch flatheads most of us fish with live little fishies. Your little fishy is not the only little fishy in the area...... think about it, just because your fishing the right area at the right time doesn't mean he (has) to pick your fish for dinner.
     
  7. jagdoctor1

    jagdoctor1 New Member

    Messages:
    708
    State:
    CA/AZ
    Plus they like to eat alot of fish that are illegal to fish with in my state*grumbles*. If there is a nice tasty bass or channel cat nearby, Ol Mister Flat might ignore your bluegill.
     
  8. jason berry

    jason berry New Member

    Messages:
    819
    State:
    Evansville
    When I want to catch flats I usually will hit two or three spots around cover and will fish them and move around just a little bit to find them one of the big keys is confidence sometimes i go out and not catch any but a lot of timesI will catch more than a few if you cant keep your livebait alive because I know its a pain use fresh cut skipjack from the same day and they will hit them if they are biting flatheads are just harder to set the hook because of the way they play with your bait. my favorite time of the year is when they come into spawn in the spring to early summer the flats basically lay on top of each other if you can find this spot you have a very good chance of catching as many as you can and alot of them will be big ones on the location. My sucess for spawning cats has been in shallow water on a rock bottom off a concrete wall or underneath a bridge in not very shallow water. if you catch a a couple nice flatheads in an area you probably have found a spot fish it hard and move around until your on top of them. read up on them thats what did and lots and lots of fishing different holes specially in a new spot and now Im pround to say Im llooking to come very close to maybe pulling in a flathead around 80 pound range this year because after alot of hours I found a spot with no help and its producing 50 pound flathead pretty steady or very close. My advice read all you can fish near cover and drop offs dont be scared about keeping your line out for a while either and never set the hook to early because normaly when a flathead takes it its a hard steady tug wait until it gets the right bend on the pole and nail him in the fall they bite different they will pick up the baits alot and sit there or move slowly youll just real in your pole and bam you have a trophy flathead geeting him in the boat is a different story. Good luck to you guys I dont look to start targeting flatheads for a few months because there sluggish in the cold weather but you still can get lucky. the water in evansville indiana new years eve was 40-41 degrees lots of bites way to much wind. good luck to you guys because in my book flathead fishing is my favorite.keep searching for them you will find them and when you get a good flathead hole they stick around there more then you think
     
  9. Blacky

    Blacky New Member

    Messages:
    10,351
    State:
    Philadelphia, P
    Do these things, and it will up your numbers everynight.

    1. Know where to fish in certain river conditions. In high water days, I fish below lowhead dams and creek mouths. During normal water flow, I have high sucess fishing bridge pilings and logjams. On low river conditions, nothing beats bridge pilings and scour holes. Certain spots produce under certain water conditions.

    2. Know where to fish in the different times of the year. Places where I have high sucess in the spring, totally sucks during the summer. Those summer spots I speak of, will not produce in the fall. it goes on and on. Certain spots will produce in certain times of the year

    3. Be versatile! Have Plan A, Plan B, Plan C, Plan D, and even Plan E! If I don't get a bite within 1 hour, I MOVE. You must be able to RUN-AND-GUN. Somedays the flats will finds you, but MOST days you have to go find the flats. Sitting in one spot all night is not fun and that's what most discourages other. If there's no fish, I'm "heading out" like a fetus:wink:.

    4. Have different kinds of baits. Have all varieties of baits to offer the flats. Use live and cut, let them decide what they want to have for dinner. I start fishing for them in April and baits like gob of worms and small bait shop bought shiners will outfish live and cut. Somedays in the summertime, the only thing they will eat is green sunfish and bass. They will not even touch bluegills.

    5. Do not fish during a full moon. I don't know what it is, but I have never caught a flat during a full moon. It has gotten so bad that I don't even bother fishing anymore during a full moon.




    Don't fish during a full moon
     
  10. flathunter

    flathunter New Member

    Messages:
    5,723
    State:
    Ohio
    In the waters I fish there are alot less flatheads than channel cats thats one reason...Also to me anyway they are so unpredictable in there feeding habits.
     
  11. river scum

    river scum New Member

    Messages:
    3,474
    State:
    hooterville indiana
    we have one river its hard to get channels in because of all the flatheads. another river dont have flatheads so its imposible to catch them there. lol i think it depends on the bio structure of the river you fish.
     
  12. vegasryder

    vegasryder New Member

    Messages:
    324
    State:
    illinois
    Shawn...i think you can get a a good idea of how different the Flats are to Channels or Blues by stopping by the Cabelas in Hoffman Estates. Unlike the other species...Flats tend to just lay next to structure and move only when necessary. The other types of cats are always roaming and are more active.
     
  13. s_man

    s_man New Member

    Messages:
    3,012
    State:
    south east ohio
    Shawn, There is more good information on this thread than you will ever find in a fishing magazine. This is all top shelf stuff. We have some great fishermen on this site. I want to add the PATIENCE factor into your problem. Once you know where a flathead is living, or better yet a giant flathead. You have to put time in on him. If you have found a big flat spot or area, someplace you just know has to hold a big one. You may have to fish that spot repeatedly over a few weeks. They won't eat every day (like stated above), they can eat larger prey the bigger they are. Which means if he is 25lbs or more he can eat a 4lb meal or more. Yes if you want numbers, move often. But if in your heart (you know there is one here), you might have to camp on him lol. But once you catch a big one at a certain spot, then its time to move. Cause unless its spawning season, there is only one big fish per spot. They are territorial and drive away any competition.
     
  14. CatfishCarpenter

    CatfishCarpenter New Member

    Messages:
    22
    State:
    Indiana
    I agree w the "no moon is better". Flats are nocturnal. Every flat i've caught was when it was darker than hell! I think they have a better chance of ambushing their prey. You would think it would be the opposite (meaning the cats would have a better chance at bait from the silouette cast by the moon). Catfish only use there eyes to see who the big man wuz that finally caught 'em!
     
  15. Shawn

    Shawn New Member

    Messages:
    408
    State:
    Illinois
    Wow... I was just at the Cabela's and spent a while watching those two flatheads in the tank. Very nice fish. They just hung out in their little corner and didn't get too excited until a kid put their face right in front of the glass. Then, the flatheads exhibited more aggressive behavior trying to intimidate the "invader".

    Of course, all the other fish were more active swimming around the tank.


    Shawn
     
  16. Blacky

    Blacky New Member

    Messages:
    10,351
    State:
    Philadelphia, P
    Shawn as for numbers, during the spring and fall, a good night for me in terms of numbers would be 5 to 6 fish with around 10 runs.

    Summer is different, I go many nights catching only one fish unless I get a couple days of rainy muddy river conditons. 3 fish nights in the summer would be good for me.
     
  17. vegasryder

    vegasryder New Member

    Messages:
    324
    State:
    illinois
    I think the main problem is the river you and I fish in also...The Fox holds some Flats, but reading from local boards, experience and talking to anglers that fish the river, the numbers is just not there. Get in contact with PolishMoose about the meeting for next month.
     
  18. Shawn

    Shawn New Member

    Messages:
    408
    State:
    Illinois
    Will do.

    I think fishing pressure is a major factor. Seems like good numbers of smaller fish, not as many mature fish.

    Another thing - when mobility is limited by so many dams, it's probably easy for downfishing of the more popular pools to happen. Not everyone releases their flatheads like we choose to do.

    Also, many parts of the river is hard to get at because of all the shallow rocky stuff in between. Still worth spending some time fishing, although there are bigger numbers of big flats in thoser larger rivers to the west.

    Shawn
     
  19. tbull

    tbull New Member

    Messages:
    3,318
    State:
    SW Ohio
    I know what you mean, but I just think the higher numbers of Blues come because they usually travel alot, and travel together. So more often than not, if you get on 1, there are many more around it.