Georgia Catfishing

Flatheads can be found most often in flowing waters over a sand, gravel or mud bottom. They especially favor underwater cover such as fallen trees, stumps, and rock ledges.

The Flathead is an aggressive predator. Like the Blue, they are opportunistic feeders who eat insects and aquatic invertebrates as well as live or dead fishes. They do, however, seem to prefer live prey when it is available. This may account for their flavor at all sizes. Unlike the Blues and the Channel catfish, the  large flatheads are considered to be just as tasty and tender as are the smaller individuals.

The original range of the flathead in Georgia is limited, though illegal introductions have expanded it greatly, often leading to reduction in numbers of native prey fishes such as bullheads and redbreasts.

Channel catfish (Ictalurus punctatus) are comparatively slender with a long body and a  deeply forked tail. Like the Blue, the Channel catfish has a protruding upper jaw and it can be difficult to distinguish between the two species. Adult Channel catfish are dark gray along the back, light or greenish yellow along the sides, and white below. The sides of both juveniles and adults have scattered dark spots, but these can become much less apparent as the fish continues to grow.

Channel catfish inhabit rivers, reservoirs, small-to-large streams, backwaters, swamps, lakes, and farm ponds throughout Georgia. Extremely adaptable, they’re normally the fish referred to when the collective term “catfish” is heard. The ultimate opportunistic feeder, the channel cat will consume any live prey it can catch; it’s also an indiscriminate scavenger.

Fishermen in Georgia traditionally go after catfish using either a rod-and-reel, ensembles or trotlines. A six foot pole with a tough spinning reel is good for most cats under a foot and half. Lighter lines (ten pound test) will give the angler a fine fighting feel and land all but the largest fish.

For those more interested in eating than angling, the trotline is a stationary fishing line tied to an object on shore. These lines usually have many evenly spaced hooks that drop off the main line on a swivel. These lines are baited with live bait, cut bait or commercially prepared baits designed specifically for trotlining. Live fish are preferred by flatheads; blues and channels are less fussy.

The trotlines are normally left out overnight and checked early in the morning. As long as the baited lines are in the water, they should be checked often to avoid losing fish.

To get the full “Georgia Catfishing” article you’ll need to download it here.

Dan Eggertsen is a fellow catfish fishing enthusiast to the point of obsession. :) He's been providing solid advice on catfish fishing since 2004.

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