When to go to catch big flathead catfish?

Discussion in 'Flathead Catfish' started by e5catfish, May 3, 2007.

  1. e5catfish

    e5catfish New Member

    Smilax, KY
    Does anyone have a tried and proven way of predicting when is the best time to catch big flatheads? Are there any ways of knowing when the conditions are just right for cats to feed heavy?

    I've researched my records for past years to try and figure out a pattern but still haven't narrowed it down to any one thing or even a combination of things. I've compared moon phase, fronts, visibility, pressure, water temperature, lake elevation etc. and still can't come up with any predictable pattern!

    Any seasoned catman with years of extensive knowledge, trips, and numerous big cat catches to his credit should know when to go. He should be able to look at the weather forecast and know from years of experience and be able to say "I need to go tomorrow night! Conditions are gonna be good and the big cats will prowl and feed heavy!"

    Does anyone have this type of knowledge or certain criteria they go by to "know when to go"? I've got 5 over 30 pounds and numerous others over 20 and still can't link it together and come up with a predictable pattern!

    Don't want to chalk it up to just luck. Someone has to know what they're talking about. Somebody out there with a high success rate has to have it figured out!
    Peteluck likes this.
  2. vlparrish

    vlparrish New Member

    Bedford, Kentucky
    Bobby, I have caught numerous flatheads in the 20s and a couple in the 30s. I have caught them shallow, deep, high muddy water falling water clear water, before a rain, after a rain day, night etc. I can tell you that between late November and late February is not a good time for them. What I can tell you is that when I catch a good flathead I feel lucky. They are not a fish that is easy to pattern and if you figure them out be sure to let us know. Sorry I couldn't be any help to you. Oh, by the way, 75% of my good Flatheads have been on cut shad. Vern
    Peteluck likes this.

  3. dafin

    dafin New Member

    I have fished Flatheads for over 50 years. I have caught them in almost every water and weather condition. I still can't say when everything is right.
  4. JAinSC

    JAinSC Active Member

    South Carolina
    First off, I am fishing in tidewater (fresh water river, but close enough to the ocean that it still goes up and down, and in and out a bit with the tide) in a medium sized coastal river in South Carolina.

    It's far from deffinate, but there seem to be a few things that have effects:

    I like the moon tides ("spring tides" = bigger tides) better that the neap (smaller) tides. More of a change in water level means a bit more current and bigger difference between high and low, which seems to move the fish more.

    Spring (April and May) seems better than summer - seems like the fish move around more feed a bit heavier and I have a better shot at bigger fish.

    Fall (cool down) can be good for numbers of fish (and a good one now and then) as they congregate in the deeper holes.

    Windy nights may be good (This one is a very new impression and still untested). Maybe the ripples on the surface and/or the noise gives them more cover for sneaking up on bait, or maybe it kind of wakes them up to move around more?

    I am really fond of these conditions right now because my last trip was: April, new moon, windy, front approaching. And we got 5 flatheads in 5 hours of fishing including 2 over 50 pounds and one almost 30. Ask me in another 6 weeks and you might get a different answer.

    You may have noticed that I like for the fish to move around. Flatheads are great ambush predators, and I believe that they can often get all the food they need without ever leaving home. They can sit in their snag all tucked in and cozy and suck in the unlucky sucker or shad or bluegill that wanders too close. For us fishermen, that is a bad thing. We have to find their exact hidey hole and put a bait in there, and then we have to pray we can get that flathead back out if we are lucky enough to hook one. I like for them to be out in the open either moving up or down river or just prowling for extra chow. Sometimes, often, that doesn't happen and I move around a lot looking for fish that are willing to come out of their hiding places far enough to take the bait I have positioned close by. I don't seem to find as many big fish this way, though.
    Peteluck likes this.
  5. flatheadsteven

    flatheadsteven New Member

    i have alot of my best luck from about 9pm up till 5am. but u can catch them anytime as long as u can find there hiding place.
    Peteluck likes this.
  6. rushing

    rushing New Member

    You can predict but you can never be sure. There are different tactics for different times of year and water level.
    Peteluck likes this.
  7. daniel-delarosa

    daniel-delarosa New Member

    seminole, oklahoma
    I still haven't caught a flathead on a rod and reel!:angry: those puppies are hard to catch. I never even saw one up close till i starting noodling.
  8. Blacky

    Blacky New Member

    Philadelphia, P
    The only pattern I have is FISHI AT NIGHT.

    Like most of you, have gotten in all sorts of weather conditions.
  9. SSgt Fishslayer

    SSgt Fishslayer New Member

    south carolina
    i have tried many diffrent things and many diffrent variations in many diffrent countries and the only thing i can come up with is this. you can only catch them if you go fishing. if you dont go i will gaurantee you 100% that you will not catch any. as far as how to catch them, all you can do is try. i realized that last night. good luck and go as often as you can (or in my case as often as my wife will let me. :tounge_out: )
  10. s_man

    s_man New Member

    south east ohio
    My experience with the moon phases might be unique to me or the spots I chose to fish that given night. But when the moon is full and the sky is clear that bright moon didn't seem to aid in catching big flats. If it was cloudy all night to where the moon couldn't be seen most of the night I caught some of my larger fish. They just seem to like it darker around here. I haven't kept my records like I should but I catch more fish with little or no moonlight. The pre-spawn is tops because they are moving around looking for spawning spots. You can catch numbers and some of the largest. As summer settles in they don't move far from home so you have to set up almost on top of them to get hit.
    Peteluck likes this.
  11. Pylodictis Olivaris

    Pylodictis Olivaris New Member

    I can't really add anything other than what everyone else has already covered....but I am kind of glad it isn't figured out down to a science. Because if we all knew that they were only going to bite during certain conditions what fun would that be? For instance if they had scientific proof that big flatties only bit during a half-moon with heavy overcast and the water is on the rise....that is all fine and dandy but what would that do to your confidence on those days when there is a full moon and the sky is perfectly clear and the water is stable? and would you still be intrigued enough to venture out knowing the conditions are working against you. Don't get me wrong there are those nights that I wish I knew what in the heck to do and where to go but then again the whole fishing adventure would kind of be lost and taken for granite. I am glad we have all the research and advice to aid us in fishing but I am also very glad that anything can happen on any given day and that tthe hought of not knowing where and when your next big fish is going to come from is what keeps me going out and trying....to sum it up I have no freaking idea on the patterns of flathead and this little tid-bit sounded better than me admitting that!
  12. Flamekeeper

    Flamekeeper New Member

    Louisville, Ken

    Right on , Bobby I noticed you are from Ky, the time of spawn here in Ky is NOW!, I have been keeping the Dates on the best and biggest fish for 20 yr's and it is at this time,During the Prespawn. ( Between May 1, thru June 15 ) the Flatheads here in the Northern part of Ky / Oldham and surrounding Counties , Flatheads are on a pretty good move . (The Big one )if you are fishing a body of water that holds a number of Flatheads/ find a 7-9' somewhat rocky Flat, that extends out into some deeper water with some type of cover or structure near its edge and you have found a spot of a lifetime,

    I fish with floats and when I find a spot I want to fish I find its depth say 9', I what to set my float depth at 8'6'' to keep my 3 1/2 -5'' Bluegill swimming and alive for a long time, just off the bottom. sticking it on a dead weight to the bottom just kills them quicker, plus the gill just lays there on the bottom with little or no movement. And you want that thing kicking around fighting for it's life/ Drawing Attention LOL. He can't go no where that Big Flathead can't go stuck on a #7-9 octopus . maybe inch's, but whos faster LOL.

    Good Luck the next time you try for the Deep water Lion.= Flathead:smile2:
    Peteluck likes this.
  13. Baitkiller

    Baitkiller New Member

    Akron, Ohio
    PRE-SPAWN and they start @ a 72-74 degree water temp. My OPINION is its best from about 60 up to the spawn.

  14. bobby-catfishing

    bobby-catfishing New Member

    Highland Villag
    I think the best time to go is anytime you can get out on the water. I've never caught one while watching tv or even reading the BOC for that mater.
  15. river scum

    river scum New Member

    hooterville indiana
    some reel good advise in the posts so far,thanks guys for your insites!

    i dont know about or have to deal with tides so i dont go by that. i never studied the moon thing too much either. about the only thing i go by is the water level. it isnt garanteed though. after a good rain the creeks will feed the rivers. along with all the water comes food. i set up on a creek mouth that has a good mud line. the best time to catch a big flat, in my opinion is when they are consentrated for some reason (like food or heavy flows). i think you just have a better chance at mr big, plus loads of action.
  16. alwayslearning

    alwayslearning New Member

    Virginia Beach, VA
    When you guys figure out the answer to this question can you pm me the answer and then get to work on that pain in the but question what is the meaning of life? :lol:

    I think the best answer so far has been any day you can get on the water!
  17. massa_jorge

    massa_jorge New Member

    i have caught flatties in every weather condition short of fishing wintertime. up here in the panhandle it is always windy, so i don't think that has anything to do with it, in reservoirs at least.
    something i have done lately is fish near a crappie house. i fish on the outside of where the light reaches with live 6-8 inch shad or as big of a bream as i can catch. the flatties i keep all have crappie in their stomachs.
    when i get to fish on rivers, i try to find holes that vary from the main depth of the river by about 5 feet. i have caught them in 15 foot deep holes and 5 foot deep holes at the end of a riffle or sandbar.
    i have caught more than a few flatties, but don't at all consider myself one of those awesome flathead fishermen, i think the fish just feel sorry when they me sitting there and think "what the heck?" i have been trying to figure out the pattern on them since i caught the first one, and the only pattern i have figured out is crappie and bream spawning beds, and just keep a few poles out for them regardless of what the weather's doing!
    Peteluck likes this.
  18. whisker bend

    whisker bend New Member

    the pre spawn is a great time. in georgia it always starts around march 15 and lasts till april 4. the mount of day light has alot to do with their spawning habits. i never fish on the full moon they just do not feed for a reason ido not know. creek mouths are great for the prespawn. that is all i fish during this time of the year. the fish are in the mouth, andall arond the point where the creek and river channels meet. this year i caught 7over20lb,5over30lbs,2over40lbs, 1 that weight 59llbs ,and 1 67lbs. acreek that that is deep enough to atract spawning flatheads is agreat location. in the summer good luck the best i can do is acouple in night and i am lucky to do that. i ve caught flatheads on every weather condition except afast falling barometer. in the fall the fishing is great again. water temp between 68 and 60 is ideal.if your fishing for big flatheads early spring and late fall isthe best chance regardless of the weather. in the summer they dont school up. my personal belief is its more about the time of the year than the weather.i cant remember how many timmes ive gone when the conditions for fishing didnt look good but because it was the right time of the year it didnt matter.
  19. Chad32

    Chad32 New Member

    :0a27: That's why it's just better to be out...


    it was june 22, very hot that day clear sky not far from a slew that we had just caught a pile of bream at, and shallower water up from adeep hole were it eddy a lil bit with alot of snags just down from the boat, it was just after dusk about 9;15 or 9:30,by far my most productive timeof night, also a big fish is that big cause he is a very efficiant predator so you probly got to drop your bream right on his head.