How do I catch trophy catfish?

I’ve been fishing for cats for quite awhile but have yet to catch a trophy fish. Can you give me a few tips?

If you want to catch a trophy catfish, first of all, you need to focus your attention on the Flathead Catfish. Ten or twenty pound fish are common among this species and they have been known to grow to lengths of over 5 feet and over 100 pounds. Catching a trophy Flathead, however, takes a lot of patience and most anglers will give it up before they land one. To increase your odds, you’ll want to do most of your fishing when the water temperatures are between 70 and 85 degrees. Depending on your actual location, the peak season for Flathead fishing is usually from May to October. When scouting a location for Flathead fishing, concentrate on large slow moving rivers and large lakes. You won’t have much luck fishing for a trophy sized Flathead in a creek, small lake or pond. One you get on the lake or river, you should be searching for an area that supports a steady flow of water with a bottom of gravel or hard mud. I’ve often found the outside bend of the river to be the most productive. If you can locate a pothole on the river bottom, a shallow flat or drop off near the mouth of a tributary or the upstream side of an underwater hump, you’ll probably find a concentration of Flatheads.

In the lake, Flatheads seem to prefer the cover of fast-breaking structures. Using a depth finder to locate the flathead will save you some time. You may also want to check out areas where there are steep rocky ledges and tree cover or timber. You’re going to have more luck with the Flathead if you fish during night or at the very least early morning. Flathead feed nocturnally. When trying to catch a trophy sized fish, heavy tackle is a must and live bait the only alternative. Flatheads prefer live bait to anything else, the bigger the better. For a truly big fish, you’ll need to supply bait that weighs anywhere from 8 ounces to a couple of pounds. Actually landing the fish once you’ve gotten a bite is another story altogether and takes some practice. The trick is to keep it away from cover and play it properly.


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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