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Big is a realitive term here ladies and gents, but heres what i conisder my first big catfish. Was late may, fising below a low water dam on a small river. We had a ton of rain anf the water was a roaring. Had caught several smaller fish and had them on a stringer. Afew buddies had showed up around 10 or 11 to fish abit. I had 3 rods out, one with a 10" bullhead out on the edge of the current seem. 3 am rolls around and i tell my buds im giving it 30 more minutes and im calling it. No sooner had i said that the ugly stik with the big bullhead doubles over. I run and grab it and the fish starts taking drag, told em it was agood one. After a short battle buddy lips the fish and i help drag itup the muddy bank. Measured 46" long, old spring scale said 48 pounds but take it with a grain of salt. Was released to fight another day.
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As you said it's a relative term but mine progressed. When I was riding my bike or walking to fish farm ponds, I thought I had landed a monster out of Bud's pond. A bull head about 15" long. Once I got my D.L. and could get myself to the Little Wabash River I caught a 12 lb. Channel a truly big fish for me at the time. I guess once I started fishing the Ohio my first actual big fish was a 45 lb. Flathead. My P.B. is a 62 lb. Blue. Can't remember important things but can recall those fish with amazing clarity.
 

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I’m getting older and someday may forget the way home but I do remember to check the sharpness of my hook with my thumb nail, to slide my finger along my leader to check for abrasions and to pul out some line against the drag to get the drag washers working before I set them at the beginning of each trip.

Funny how the important things get remembered.

tight lines
 

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Stacee from Indiana
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When I was just a teen I seen an article in a fishing magazine that had these big flatheads pictured.
I read that whole article and noticed they used live bluegills for bait.
So I caught some bluegills in a pond and kept them alive and went to the river before dark.
I was able to cross the dam and get on a sandbar in the middle of the river.
My first time walking across the dam.
There was ripples to the left and right of the island and what seemed to be a pool right on the back side of the island.
I only had a zebco 33 and zebco rod with 10 lb line. I can't recall what hook I used probably a eagle claw bait holder hook and a few split shots. I hooked a bluegill in the top lip and tossed it out in that pool.
Propped my rod up on a short forked stick and just waited anticipating my first flathead.
In the wee hours the rod starts moving and I set the hook. Fight that flathead in the current to bring him in. Probably a 5 pound flathead but man I was so excited to catch my first one.

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The river has changed some 35 years later.
 

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Bill, in OkC
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Like you fellas said, I might forget what I had for breakfast. But, I'll never forget that first flathead of any size that I caught on a live goldfish.
It was August, 2020. My last goldfish.
I hooked him up, right behind dorsal fin. Tossed him out, maybe 30 yards.
Put the rod in the holder, tightened the line. As I reached for another rod to rebait the hook, the one with the goldfish tried to get out of the holder.

When I got him reeled in, I was amazed. Not a BIG fish (compared to any caught by Dieter or Catfish Dave). For me, it was my PB. Still is.
I didn't have a scale, yet. And didn't think to snap a picture.
But, I'll never forget it. That goldfish wasn't in the water 2 minutes before the flatty had him.
 

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Spring of 2007 on the Big Muddy river near Murphysboro, IL. Old friend who doesn't post here anymore took me on a camping and fishing trip on some private land accessible only by water. One day in a light rain, I hooked up to an 18 lb flathead on a live bluegill. That was my first large fish. That night I hooked into a 40 lb blue and had a 2nd PB in the same 24 hours.
 

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Eric from Indianapolis
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May 15, 2004 at 10:30pm was when I caught the fish that hooked me. Slightly bottomed out a 50lb scale, so we committed to 52lbs. Wish I would have had a tape measure. Was fishing from the bank in less than 2ft of water. Had a two way rig on, one hook had a lively gill and the other a garlic salt cured chicken liver, the flattie hit the liver. Gotta love how much better cell pics have got over the years lol! I was never the same after catching that fish... and please forgive me for holding it by the gills, I was still a serious noob!
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It was a far cry from a “monster” but it was my first ever flathead and reigned as my PB for at least 10 years. I have no idea of it’s weight, but the one that started it all for me was in the late spring/early summer of 2000. I was jigging a hole below a low head dam for crappies and sauger in the town where I live. This 31-inch flathead grabbed my 2” chartreuse & black crappie tube. I thought I was snagged at first, but then it moved, rolled on the surface, and the battle was on! It took maybe 30 minutes to land it, and I was worried to death that I was going to have to chase it downstream through the riffles.

I’ve been hooked on catfish ever since!

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Awesome post! My dad had an old article about flatheads in a magazine, looking back on it now, it was likely in fisherman. This was maybe 1985? Somewhere around there , maybe 83, 84.

At any rate, he had been musky fishing, but he somehow realized that there were flatheads in the Alleghany River and we lived in a tiny town just below Warren Pa. Right on the river. At that time, nobody in our area knew there were big flatheads in our River. At least to my knowledge.

The town I lived in was (and still is) known for holding the "PA State fishing championship tournament " they have a little fair, multi species tournament, big deal in a tiny town, thats the towns clain to fame. All the campers are in town that weekend, etc. Back then it was a pretty big deal.

One of the categories is catfish and there is a youth category for catfish also. My earliest memory of a flathead is fishing tournament weekend when I was 7 or 8 years old, my dad took me out and we caught a couple flatheads, I think we caught 3 fish, 12-15 pounders, nothing crazy, but I will NEVER forget the "wows" and the "LOOK AT THE SIZE OF THOSE FISH" reactions that we got when we took the fish into the crowd for weigh in. At that time , there was no internet, I distinctly remember big eyed people asking "did those fish come from THAT river??!?!"

Of course we both stomped out any competition in the catfish category that had up until that point consisted of channel cats and bullheads. The next several years saw my dad become kind of a local legend by catching some pretty big flatheads. Seeing a 30# flathead come from our local river blew people away.

Back then , we only fished for them during a little window in the spring when the mayfly were hatching. They disappeared after that and we moved onto muskie and bass. Didn't realize at the time that it was just the spawn and that we could have fished for them after spawn was over.

We used to use little 1/0 j-hooks because that was the biggest hook we could get locally my dad would constantly be asking everyone to save their wine bottle corks, he figured out pretty early on that rock bass were the main forage for flatheads where we were fishing and rock bass will snag you up on anything they can , so he would cut pieces of wine cork and slide them on the line above the hook. This was LONG before we ever heard of the Santee rig lol.

Those early trips started an obsession that has stayed with me for nearly 40 years. I've caught a LOT of flatheads , but I can still vividly remember the first dozen or so that I caught all these years later.
 

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I fish a lot by myself and this day was no different. I was catching mid 20# blues then boated a 30# even. That was fun.
Hooked another and when I saw it at the surface the first time I thought, WOW, another 30#. A little later when I was netting it I thought, it could be bigger! It went 43.05#. (y):eek: It is posted somewhere in an older thread here.
Jeff
 

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When I first started drift fishing started to catch a lot of 20 pounders few in 30s took 2 friends who never caught a 10 pounder in 5 minutes the both had a 27 and 32 caught maybe a dozen I hadn't reeled a fish was enjoying them catching rod close to me went down my pb 63 pounds they still talk about it
 
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