Squarish, not forked tail, long head with wide distinctly flattened head and eyes are flat and oval shapped. Lower jaw protrudes past upper jaw. Color is shades of mottled browns and yellows.
Flathead Catfish AKA Pylodictis olivaris
The flathead catfish is native to the large rivers of the Mississippi, Missouri, and Ohio basins from southern North Dakota, south into northern Mexico, and east as far as Lake Erie’s southeast coast and the western most tip of the Florida panhandle. It occurs broadly over this entire area and has now been widely introduced outside its native range.
The flathead catfish is very distinctive in appearance and not easily confused with any other species. It is one of the largest catfish in its family, second in size only to the blue catfish (Ictalurus furcatus). It has a square, rather than forked, tail. Its body is long, and its head is wide and is a distinctly flat-looking, oval shape. The lower jaw further accentuates it by protruding beyond the upper jaw. In general coloration, the flathead catfish is mottled with varying shades of brown and yellow.
This popular food fish has an excellent flavor. It frequents deep sluggish pools with hard bottoms in large rivers. It seems to have a distinct preference for fish, but it is omnivorous.
A current edge is a place where natural or man-made objects slow the current. When the current slows, the food that travels with it also slows. So fish rest at current edges and wait for a nice, slow meal to come by. Current edges can be created by natural or man-made structures like bends, merging currents, drop-offs, rocks and islands.
When water flows over a drop-off, it slows down and sinks, taking the food it carries with it. A drop-off is a great feeding place because it has food, deeper water and it’s away from the current, allowing for a more relaxing dining experience for the fish.
Rock and Boulder Pockets:
When flowing water hits rocks and boulders, it splits and goes around the obstruction, creating an area of calm water on the downstream side of the obstruction. Fish will rest, facing upstream, on the downstream side of a rock. These pockets are small, but a handy cast could land you a fish.
Rivers and Streams:
In a lake or pond, fish have to move around to find food. In a river or a stream, the food comes to them. So moving-water fish find hiding places and travel anywhere from a few feet to up to several hundred feet, several times a day to eat.
You have to decide if you’re going to fish where the fish are hiding or where the fish are feeding. Either way, you’ll have to learn about river and stream feeding and hiding structure.
Hiding structure include undercuts in the banks, eddies, sunken trees and overhanging trees and bushes: places that provide protection from the current and above-water predators.
Feeding places include the outside of bends, merging currents, drop-offs, feeder brooks and springs: places where the current slows down and food collects or sinks.
In general, fish found in moving water tend to be a little smaller than lake fish. But they’re fighters, strong from battling the currents.
Dams and Falls:
When water continually drops off a dam or falls, it creates a big hole or drop-off. Fish will sit at the bottom of these holes to get away from the current and to eat sinking food. Fish can get trapped in these holes if they are going upstream to find cooler water or to spawn.
Undercuts are considered the perfect hiding spot on the river. They occur where the current has cut out a cave-like hole in earth or rock along the shore. If there’s a tree above the undercut, all the better. Undercuts provide protection from above-water predators and the sun. And easy access to deeper water for feeding or escape. The biggest, baddest river fish live in undercuts.
Still fishing is a versatile way to go. You can do it from a pier, a bridge, an anchored boat or from shore. And you can still fish during most seasons and during any part of the day. Your equipment and the size of the hooks and bait you use depend on what kind of fish you’re after. Your best equipment for still fishing is patience. You have to wait for the fish to bite. A great method for still fishing is to use one rod with natural bait that will soak or sit on the bottom as well as a casting rod with an artificial bait or lure. While you’re letting your natural bait soak, you can keep occupied and cover more ground while taking casts with a lure.
Drift fishing allows you to fish over a variety of habitats as your boat drifts with the currents or wind movement. You can drift fish on the bottom or change the depth with a bobber or float. Natural baits work very well but jigs, lures and scented artificial baits will produce good results, too. When drift fishing with multiple baits and rods, it is always a good idea to set out each bait at a different depth. This allows the angler to cover more of the water column.
We won’t say it’s foolproof, but spin casting is an ideal fishing method for beginning anglers. Spin-casting equipment is easier to use than bait casting. You can use it to cast both light and heavy lures without tangling or breaking your line. Basic equipment includes a 7-foot rod, a spinning reel and 6–10 pound test line for casting 1/16- to 3/4 ounce lures. You can use an open-face, closed-face or spin-cast reel for spin casting.
Flatheads eat anything they can get in their big mouth, but prefer Live fish, such as largegold fish, blue gill, perch, x-tra large shinners, and sun perch.
Flathead Catfish Attraction to Light - Flatheads feed a lot by sight and feed during the day as well as at night. They will come around lights at night to feed on baitfish that come to the light.
Flathead Catfish Life Cycle - After hatching small catfish grow quickly. They are mature when 15 to 19 inches long and can live over 25 years, growing throughout their life.
Flathead Catfish Problems - Flatheads can decimate the population of some kinds of sun fish, especially in smaller waters or where they are not native. Some smaller rivers in Georgia have lost almost all their redbreat sunfish after flatheads were illegally introduced