Flathead Catfish

Discover everything you need to know about the flathead catfish. What is this fish? Where should you fish for catfish? Discover all of this and more.

North America is home to some of the most incredible species of fish, meaning you will never run out of angling opportunities to enjoy. Below, we will reveal everything you need to know about the flathead catfish species. 

What is a Flathead Catfish?

Flathead catfish is one of the bigger and more common species of fish. Aside from grass carp, they also represent one of the fastest-growing fish in the country. Typically, these fish will weigh between 10 and 15 pounds when young. However, as they get older, they can reach more than 100 pounds in weight and between three and four feet in length. Some monster catfish can grow in excess of 10 pounds per annum. 

One thing you won’t do is confuse a flathead catfish with any other type of fish species. The reason for this is because their appearance is incredibly distinctive. Of course, they have a flat head, but they also have a relatively long body and a forked tail too. They have a broadhead, beady eyes, and a potbelly. The head is oval in shape, with the lower jaw sticking out more than the upper, which only accentuates the fish’s head. The fish does not have a specific color; it varies based on the environment. Typically, it tends to be mottled with yellowish on the sides and different brown sides. It tapers to a lighter or whitish mottling on the stomach. 

Where to Fish for Flathead Catfish 

If you are interested in fishing for flathead catfish, one thing you will need to know is where to fish for this species! Despite the fact that this species is not exclusively nocturnal, they do tend to be more active at night time and during the month of June. they will feed at different levels, but they are typically shallower. 

There are plenty of different locations throughout the United States where you can fish for flathead catfish. This includes the following:

  • Tennessee River Reservoirs
  • Kanawha River, West Virginia
  • Susquehanna River, Pennsylvania
  • Michigan Monsters
  • Fox River, Wisconsin
  • Nebraska Reservoirs
  • Arizona Oases

Flathead catfish represent one of the most difficult catches out of all of the catfish, which is one of the reasons why so many anglers are attracted to the challenge. Even if the most experienced anglers will be delighted when they catch one big catfish during a single trip. 

We would recommend that you are careful when it comes to handling the likes of tobacco, insect repellant, gasoline, and sunscreen. The reason for this is because it can send them fleeing away from even the best and most attractive catching baits. This is because flathead catfish have an excellent ability to smell and taste certain compounds in the water, even if they are only present in small quantities.

Flathead Catfish Fun Facts 

The flathead catfish is deemed one of the top predators in the ecosystem. It tends to feed at night and is a bottom feeder, following the ‘sitting and waiting’ hunting method. 

You will find this species of fish in their favorite hiding place, and they will remain there on a daily basis if they are not disturbed. They are good food and sport fish, and you can harvest them via the noodling and tickling fishing method. 

In terms of food, the young will eat insects whereas the adults eat small animals that get into the water, as well as crayfish and fish. They will very rarely eat decaying matter.

In fact, a lot of anglers mistakenly believe that large flatheads are going to eat virtually anything, but that is not the case. Flathead catfish will often scavenge and they are not particularly fussy when it comes to their food or bait. However, this is something that only applies when you are fishing for small flatheads. Young ones that only weigh a few pounds tend to get attracted to bait like live fish, worms, crawfish, stink baits, and chicken livers on a line, but you cannot expect this to happen when it comes to the larger catfish. 

Catfish also tend to be loners. You can find them in secluded locations, for example, logs and other types of debris in deep waters. You will find the young in sandy or rocky runs and riffles. 

It is not uncommon for you to hear catfish referred to by different nicknames, which they have gained because of their appearance, for example, they can be known as yellow catfish or mud catfish. 

Unlike their cousins, one thing that flathead catfish cannot do is go for an extended chase. Instead, they roam throughout the night and they do so very little.

Top Flathead Catfish Fishing Lures & Tips 

When you are fishing for flathead catfish, it is a good idea to use live fish as bait. You will find that they won’t be taken in by old or smelly bait! This is because they are predators and they only eat other fishes, such as carp, bullheads, and gizzard shad. 

Aside from getting the lure right, there are a number of other ways you can increase your chances of success when fishing for flathead catfish. Flathead catfish have proven to be popular with catfish anglers in bigger lakes and rivers. They provide an intense, deep-digging, and stubborn fight. Bigger ones may take some time to subdue, and you must pursue them with a heavy tackle, especially as they are present in environs that are filled with snags. Therefore, bottom fishing with a form of natural bait or prepared natural bait is one of the most effective ways of fishing for flatheads. 

Getting large flatheads by their lower jaw tends to be the best way of landing this type of fish, irrespective of the technique. This could help you to catch much bigger game fish. You can use a fishing pole or hand line to fish for flatheads. Some people use the noodling technique, which is a unique fishing approach, but a very successful one once you have perfected it. 

If you decide to go down the traditional route, the best approach for catching a flathead catfish is to use a medium/heavy action rod that is at least 7’. A bait-casting reel is most effective, with 4/0 to 8/0 hooks being the best, no larger or smaller. 

If you intend on keeping one of the catfish that you are able to catch, it is recommended that you concentrate on the smaller ones, i.e. those that weigh less than 10 pounds. After all, it is going to be a lot easier to catch such fish. You should note that the daily possession limit stands at 10. This may differ from location to location, though, so make sure you find out about the local rules beforehand. 

Another tip that we have for you when it comes to angling for flathead catfish is to think like a predator. Get a grasp of the bushwhackers first and foremost. These species may hide behind riverbank cavities, toppled trees, snags, submerged logs, and driftwood piles so that they can ambush the prey that passes them by.

By learning about the habits of the flathead catfish, you will give yourself the best chance of finding them. Focus your efforts on locations that have dense cover and are near the shade by the shore. It is not very easy to extract these fish from their sports, though. However, it can be possible if you are using a heavy or tough tackle. 

Can you eat Flathead Catfish? 

Last but not least, can you eat flathead catfish? Yes, you can! In fact, you will find catfish on restaurant menus all around the world because they can be prepared in different ways and taste delicious. 

Known for being rich in minerals, vitamins, and fatty acids, this fish comes with a whole host of different health benefits. It is a great source of lean protein. This is a critical energy source for your diet, helping to build and repair tissues and muscles. It acts as a building block for various molecules, including hormones and enzymes. 

Another recommended reason to eat flathead catfish is that it provides more omega-3 fatty acids when compared with other food items. It can, therefore, assist in enhancing neurological and mental conditions. If you suffer from memory loss, you can benefit from consuming this fish. 

While a lot of species of fish are high in vitamins, flatheads are a particularly excellent source. A considerable level of vitamin B12 is one of the reasons for this, which can treat anemia and protect against heart disease.

So there you have it; everything you need to know about flathead catfish and fishing for this species. We hope that this has helped you to get a better understanding of what to expect when fishing for this species and where the best opportunities lie.