Flathead Catfish Q & A

flathead catfish

Questions From Rambling Angler Readers

Are Bullheads Good Bait for Flatheads

Yellowbellys or Bullheads as we call them are great for spawning flatheads or anytime for that matter. The bullheads stay alive much longer and will seek the same areas to hide as their flathead cousins which is right where you want them to go. Be careful though or they could lodge themselves in those hiding spots so keep them moving. Yellowbellys/bullheads are not mentioned as often as other baits I think because they are not as readily available to most flathead anglers but if you can get bullheads then I would say use them all season long for some great flathead action.

SHOULD I USE A BOBBER OR FISH ON BOTTOM FOR FLATHEAD CATFISH

This is a great question and one I get a lot. I use a bobber nearly 100% of the time when fishing for flatheads. For one thing I like to watch my bait working so I know it isn’t hung up. I also use the bobber to keep the bait above the gnarly habitat that flatheads love. As far as a lighted bobber I have mixed feelings about those. Some anglers feel that catfish are actually attracted to the light but in my experience the light works great for attracting channels or at least they don’t mind the light but flatheads seem to not be attracted and maybe scared away by it. Just my opinion and when I am fishing at night I am usually fishing in 2 to 3 foot of water where flatheads like to prowl for food.

If you’re fishing deeper with a slip bobber the light would be less of a deterrent. I have actually watched big flatheads swimming a couple feet below my bait and would not come up to get it so I blame the light but I’m not positive. I don’t use a light for flatheads and if you keep a bow in your line and all the line above the water you can see (if you use a blacklight) the line jerking from the bait moving or if you have a good sensitive catfish rod then you can actually feel the bait moving. This allows you to maintain a working bait so it can attract those giant flatheads. Hope this helps.

WHAT WATER TEMPERATURE DO FLATHEADS SPAWN

I have heard, read and witnessed flatheads spawning at various temps. I have a friend that noodles for huge flatheads and this is how I know that flatheads will spawn from 65 to 80 degrees while 70 degrees seems to be the target temp I would start your search when the water is approaching 65 degrees. It’s sort of like the rut when deer hunting. They say the rut will be the first week in November and usually it is but there is some rutting activities before and after this time frame and you can bet I am in the woods for it.

Another good reason to find early spawners is because you can mark that spot. I can assure you there will be a flathead there the next season. My friend keeps a few of the flatheads he noodles. He can go back within a few days and there’s usually another flathead in that hole. Even if there are eggs in the hole another flathead will lay her eggs with them. Flatheads like to spawn in certain size and types of holes. They look for areas where they can protect their eggs. If that hole is the right size and in the right place there will usually be flathead in it.

WHAT TACKLE IS BEST FOR FLATHEAD CATFISHING

Due to the flathead’s agressive nature, raw power, and potential size having a proper rod and reel can determine whether you land a monster or are left standing there with a broken rod or reel in your hand. A heavy rod, 6-7 feet in length, a heavy duty spinning or baitcasting reel, is a great place to start.  Spool the reel with 50 lb mono or 65-100 lb braided line.

Slip rig with a no roll sinker is very popular. This rig is very simple. A sliding sinker on the main line, a bead to protect the knot, a swivel with a heavy leader and a good hook.  This rig presents the bait to the catfish on or near the bottom. Float rigs work very well for many flathead anglers. Floats rigs allow you to suspend your bait at any depth. It also can decrease the odds of getting snagged and you will get snagged. Snags are just part of flathead fishing.

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About Ken McBroom 215 Articles
Ken McBroom is an accomplished outdoor writer and photographer. Growing up in Lynchburg Tennessee allowed him many opportunities afield as a boy and young man. Later in life, after Desert Storm, Ken’s wanderlust took him to Alaska to live and work and experience the last frontier. Married now with two beautiful children, Ken now calls Kentucky home where he continues to communicate our American outdoor traditions and the lifestyle it offers.