Spring is just around the corner and so is the flathead spawning season. There’s a growing number of catfish anglers around the country and many enjoy chasing big springtime flatheads. These tips will help you this spring put more and bigger flatheads in the boat.
Check out the smaller bodies of water first for springtime flatheads, they warm up quicker.
Locate good ambush spots along the shore where a flathead catfish might sit to gorge on prey preparing for the flathead spawning season.
Use smaller baits during post spawn. Big flatheads are exhausted from the flathead spawning season and don’t feel like chasing big baits.
Go up the creek in search of springtime spawning flathead catfish. You might be surprised how far up they will go to spawn.
Fish along bluff walls where flathead catfish love to feed as well as spawn in the many undercuts along these bluffs.
You can extend your springtime flathead fishing fun if you focus on small bodies of water first. The smaller lakes and streams will warm up a lot faster than larger bodies of water. Keep track of water temps on your area waters and when the surface temps reach the 50’s the catfish begins to feed-up for the upcoming spawn. This is the best time to fish for spring flatheads. These small waters is your best bet early and they can warm up weeks before larger waters. Extend your season with this tip and remember as the small water flatheads begin to spawn and refuse to bite those big waters are just getting warm enough for more fishing action.
Springtime flatheads are known to be buried in thick cover but during early spring they love to sit in ambush points to gorge on baitfish and worms and any other food that washes by. Look for flathead catfish to position themselves in current breaks behind boulders or around channel swings in the creek, river or stream. A real good spot to find early spring flatheads is at the mouth of incoming creeks. Flathead catfish will hang in the slack water next to this moving water waiting to engulf any type of food that washes by.
During the early spring flathead catfish have much slower metabolism. Flathead catfish, like other fish, know from instincts how much energy it will use to first catch the prey and then to also digest that prey. You can increase your bites during the early spring by downsizing your bait. Cut-bait will also work on early spring flathead catfish. It seems that the best way to present cut-bait to flathead catfish is throwing into moving water allowing the bait to wash into slack water where the flathead lies in wait to ambush its prey. Flathead catfish, that are in these ambush spots, will engulf the cut-bait without knowing it is dead so take advantage of this during your early spring trips.
UP THE CREEKS
Flathead catfish, more than any of the other catfish species, seek calm water. If you hunt flathead catfish on big rivers they will migrate up smaller tributaries to get out of the turbulent flow from the snow melt and early spring rains. These tributaries may be flowing strong but they will have less turbulent water and more ambush points to hide behind. There have been many big flathead catfish caught in very small tributaries during early spring. They are there you just have to be patient and believe they are there. It is a lot of fun pulling a 30 pounder out of a small creek.
During your hunt for early spring flatheads look for steep banks. Flatheads will move up to feed-up in preparation for the spawn and they will do this near spawning areas. Flathead catfish spawn in holes that they can protect. Steep banks that have large boulders, root wads and mud is where flatheads like to spawn. Flatheads will spawn in brush in shallow water. However, the steep banks with a lot of cover will attract a larger number of flathead catfish. Fish these banks or nearby flats where dead shad, from the winter kill, wash in during early spring. This is another reason cut-bait will work on flatheads in the spring. Catfish focus on dead shad this time of year.
These are just a few tips on catching more springtime flatheads during the early spring season. I hope this helps you think outside the box when it comes to hunting flathead catfish. These tips are just a starting point to help you think about the possibilities. I love to hunt flathead catfish. It took these tips from better anglers than me to help extend my season. Good luck this spring. Get out there a little sooner this year and let me know how you did.
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.
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