The flathead catfish is the favorite among many catfish anglers because they can be even more challenging to catch than some of the other types. They’re one of the largest fish in the catfish family (second to the blue cat) and they will fight hard to get lose when you hook one. It’s this fight and the large size that captures the interest of all types of anglers but especially those who want to catch trophy fish.
The flathead has a long wide head that appears to be flat, hence the name. They have flat, oval shaped eyes and the lower jaw protrudes past the upper jaw. They’re a mottled brown color mixed with yellows and the tail is not forked. They’re known by a few other names such as shovelhead cat, yellow cat and mudcat.
Flathead can be found from the bottom of the Great Lakes area to the top of the Gulf Coast but they’re a native of the Appalachian Mountains. They prefer to stay in water where the temperature ranges between 58 and 75 degrees but they can be found in water warmer or colder.
One of the reasons the flathead catfish is harder to catch than some of the others is because they can’t be found in the usual places you would look for this species, which is around structures where they can hideout. This particular catfish will still be on the bottom but they prefer deep pools where the water is a bit cloudy and where the current is slow to moderately flowing.
They tend to stay in the same area most all of their life and this is usually in the same part of the water where they originated or close by. They don’t swim in groups or schools but you can often find several in the same locations.
The World Record Flathead
If you’re interested in breaking the world record, then you need to know a little about the existing one. Right now, the world record flathead was caught on May 14, 1998 by a man named Ken Paulie. It was caught in Kansas on the Elk City Reservoir and it weighed a whopping 123 pounds. That’s one big fish! You’ll have to work hard to break that record.
One of things that make this record so amazing is the way it was caught. You would think to reel in a fish this big that the angler had some special gear with heavy test line but that’s not the case. It’s reported that Paulie was using a Zebco 33 reel and it was spooled with 12-pound test line. He had a real fight on his hands and he was lucky that the line didn’t snap under the weight of the fish.
Tips for Catching Flathead Catfish
Since the flathead is harder to catch than some of the other types of catfish, it helps to learn as much about this species as you can before going fishing. This will help give you an advantage over the fish and get you off to a great start.
Flathead catfish are territorial so they’ll fight any species that invade their space and this includes other flatheads. This makes them very aggressive when feeding especially if another fish invades their territory. For this reason, the best bait to use is live bait unlike the stink baits and even dead fish that you would use for other catfish species.
Therefore, live bait is what you need to use when trying to catch the biggest fish you can reel in. Some of the best bait to use is bream, shad, carp and minnows but you can try other live baitfish too. It’s best to look around, see what baitfish is found naturally and choose something to match.
Normally, the best time to catch flathead is between May and early June. Fishing will slow down a little and then pick back up again in late July through September. Do most of your fishing on the bottom for the best results during this time of year.
There is no particular time of day when you should go fishing for flathead, which is not typical with other catfish. Most types of catfish are more active at night and this is when you’ll catch the biggest ones. When it comes to flathead catfish, it really depends on where you’re fishing.
In some locations, the fishing will be better at night and in others, it will be better during the day. The best thing to do is go out fishing in your area at different times of the day and during different seasons until you learn when the best time to fish is in your area.
When fishing at night, use a light to help draw them to your location. When you place a lantern above or in the water, it will draw in the baitfish. Flathead fish by sight so the light will help them see the baitfish, drawing them in your direction too.