Best Baits and Tactics for Shovelhead Catfish

Catfish are most fishermen’s favorite fish to catch because they are typically larger than many other fish. There are many species that get quite large with the shovelhead being one of the larger fish. These are located in many areas of the country with the majority of the larger ones found in large lakes and slow moving rivers. The shovelhead is also known as the flathead in some areas with the majority calling them shovelheads because of the shape of their head. As with other catfish species, there are special techniques that are used to catch this fish. The following are some of the best baits and tactics for shovelhead catfish:

* Types of Bait – There are three different types of bait that are used to catch all species of catfish. These are live bait fish, cut fish and alternative baits such as stinky bait. When it comes to the shovelhead, only two of the three actually have any effectiveness because the alternate baits are typically ignored by the catfish. When it comes to live bait fish, bluegill are a great option because they come in a wide range of sizes and can be caught for free if you do not want to pay the expense to purchase them. It is important to keep them live bait fish in the same water that they were caught in. A basket net suspended over the side of the boat or dropped in the water from shore can be an effective way to store the bait so it stays alive and is ready when needed. The dead ones can also be cut up for bait or for chumming the waters. The larger the bluegill, the bigger the catfish you can catch. The same goes for the cut bait, you do not have to use bluegill, but you want to have large chunks for the same reason.

* Techniques for Catching Shovelhead – Catching shovelhead is not always easy because they lurk at the bottom of the lakes and rivers they are found in. The type of water determines the techniques that are used for catching them. When fishing in a large lake, using a boat and dropping your line in with a catfish bobber is very effective. Drop the line in until you hit bottom and then reel it in about a foot or so. This allows the bait to have freedom of movement but is still close enough to the bottom for the fish to see. The bobber allows you have more than one line out and know when the catfish is attacking your bait without feeling the line. Just make sure that all of the poles you have out are properly secured to the boat or you may lose them when a large one takes the bait.

If you are fishing on a river, a great method for fishing is drift fishing. When you located the catfish, you want to position the boat just upstream from them. This allows you to drift through their area where they are feeding. After you pass them, turn on the motor and go back up stream. If you use your trolling motor, you do not have to take your lines out of the water as long as the bait is still alive. You can use the same set up that you use when lake fishing just as long as the bait is deep enough without touching bottom.

* Locating the Catfish – As stated previously, catfish prefer the bottom of the lakes and rivers they are found in and the shovelhead catfish are no different. They prefer areas that are covered like deep depression and sunken stumps. You can use a fish finder to locate them either in a lake or river. Once you find them, stick to that area as they are very territorial and only stray a small way from their preferred resting spot. They are creatures of the night and prefer to do their feeding when it is dark out. The times of the year when they are feeding the most is right before spawn in June and right before winter sets in. During these times, the water temperatures are around sixty degrees which makes for the best chances to catch some really large fish. Do not bother to fish when they are spawning as they do not feed at all.

Fishing for shovelhead catfish can be challenging for those who have no experience at the sport. This catfish is very popular and offers a great deal of great fish meat that can be cooked fresh or frozen for later use. As long as you know where to find the fish, have the right bait and use the proper fishing techniques you can be successful. Fishing at night, in the spring and falls months and avoiding spawning season in July are the best times to catch the shovelhead no matter if they are located in a lake or river.

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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