Tuesday, February 1, 2011


my latest obsession is a fish that stalks the current breaks on many of our large rivers. a fish that will devour a 6 pound carp whole, a fish that has no predators and will eat anything that fits in its gigantic mouth. they will break heavy line, snap rods and bust reels. i have witnessed one of these behemoths snap 60lb braid like it was nothing. a fish that you must target with large lively bait. even a 15 inch redhorse is not out of the question as bait for this creature. what kind of monster could i be speaking of? well i am referring to the flathead catfish. a fish that can grow over 70lbs here in minnesota. i encountered several including my very first this past year on the mississippi river.

these fish fight insanely hard, i have heard my heartland esox rod make some nasty crunching sounds while bringing in flathead cats.

if you plan on targeting these fish first you need to know what to look for, basically any current seem or break is what you need to look for. for example the walls to a lock or an area with fast current that has a dock or bridge pillar blocking the current off are great places to look. also the point in which two rivers meet or where changes in depth occur typically will hold catfish a good example of a depth change would be a point hump or gravel bar on the river the fish tend to position themselves down current of any of these structures and wait to ambush smaller fish as they move down river. ive had best luck in water anywhere from 15-25 feet deep

next need is to know when to look. flatheads usually turn on more in the evening. spend an hour or so catching bait before the sun goes down then around dusk head out to your spot.

the final and most important part to catching yourself a flathead catfish is knowing what tackle to use. there really is no such thing as overkill when it comes to flatheads. they are a fish that grows very large and with the right bait in the right spots it really is not difficult to get into some really heavy fish. i recomend at least 60lb braid, a baitcaster reel, a heavy or extra heavy rod 2-5 oz weights and large circle hooks. my prefered bait is always black bullhead although i have had luck on shad and creek chubs.

the reason for the bullhead is they last longer hooked up than most fish will. i hook my bullhead up right before the tail and they will stay nice and lively for hours hooked that way.

once your set up in a spot for flatheads all you need to do is set up the rods and wait, i set the clickers on after i cast out then set the rod on the ground and wait for it to start screaming. if you dont have a clicker then you can stake the rod into the ground and place a bell on the rodtip to indicate strikes. you will have to rely on sound once it gets later and you cant see the rods as well.the wait for a flathead to come across your bait can be anywhere from 5 minutes to 5 hours. one tactic that works great for flatheads is camping out overnight at your spot. it helps if your fishing a border water where 2 lines are legal so you can either have 2 flathead setups out or one other rod set up for other species to help kill time between strikes on the flathead rod.

so if your crazy enough to sit out on the mosquito filled shorlines and wait hours at a time for a fish flatheads may be for you. they will be worth the patience once one is on the end of your line.

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