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Question by varminthunter. Uploaded on March 07, 2010
Flatheads rarely take anything but live bait, blues will eat anything. Are you trotlining or fishing with a pole? Trot-lining, a mix of perch, crawfish, beef liver, and goldfish (where legal, check your state regs,) is usually productive. For fishing with a rod and reel, use a two hook rig, and offer any of the above, also small frogs, large grasshoppers, cheese or blood stink bait, night crawlers, or large shiner minnows. Cats tend to bite whatever is offered, if they are in a feeding mood.
Check for legality in your area. Ivory soap. Down deep. Cut off chunks about an inch square and use a sinker.
I usually take a few of my nieces and nephews and a grandchild or two perch fishing. They have fun catching the fish and I release the fish into my bait bucket for baiting limb lines and trout lines. Then they enjoy eating the fish I catch. I"v also caught good messes of fish nothing but worms, minnows and cut bait.
Live bait like CRM said, you are going to want to focus on woody cover in the river. Anchor (as quietly as possible) above the wood and drop your bait down in front of it and wait.
Flatheads are hunters, you can use a live bluegill, chub, bullhead catfish (spines cut), or shad (if you can keep them alive!).
Some guys have a lot of success on goldfish as well.
Hook bullhead through the lower jaw and up through the nose. The others halfway between the tail and the dorsal fin, right above the spine. Use a BIG hook. I’m talkin 5/0, 6/0, even 10/0 for the big ones. Make sure you have a big gap from the shank to the point, too much bait fish in the hook will keep the flathead from getting hooked, trust me, that is no fun.
I use an 8-ft surf rod with 35# test Iron Silk (great stuff). Tie on a swivel and a 50# test wire leader to connect to the hook. Then, tie a 3 or 4oz sinker onto a 5# monofilament line with about 2 or 3 feet of line before tying that to the swivel as well. That way, if the cat drags your sinker into thick cover (which they always seem to manage to do) your sinker will drop right off and you won’t lose the fish. The only way to productivly catch flathead is with either live or freshly-cut cut bait.
There are several factors here such as season and moon phase, but generally in the summer months you can target blue catfish both day and night with good results.
The flathead catfish are generally much more active at night, with many larger fish caught around midnight to 3 am. Full moon nights can be slow, so pass on these if you can reschedule to another night. Flatheads can be caught at any time day or night, but your chances are much greater at these peak times.
Flathead catfish like deep holes with cover on the outside edges of the rivers bends. Look for large logjams, cast under the edges and let your bait drift in and then hang on. If the outside bends are too strong to fish try to find some inside bends with less current to fish.
In large lakes and reservoirs look for the big flatheads in areas with lots of cover, submerged brush piles, or stumps. They often travel in old river and creek channels in these lakes and reservoirs. Often at night they will travel these channels emerging at the edge of shallows where they come to feed. Position yourself along these areas and wait for them to arrive.
Blue catfish will often be found in similar areas as the flathead catfish.
The blues can sometimes also be found a little deeper along drop-offs and ledges.
Your best bait for Blue catfish is cut bait. That is if you want the big ones, the trophy cat. They can and have been caught with other baits but nothing will perform as well as cut baits for the trophy size blues!!!
Just a note on 2Poppa's comment: Be sure to check the regs in your area as to the legality of using goldfish as bait. I know here in MI it is not legal.
i load the hook with crawlers or use cut baitfish
I find that homemade bait works much better than store bought bait. You can find many videos on YouTube regarding homemade bait. The catfish love Amino Acids and that is something we usually have no knowledge of. You make my own bait using health oils with strong Amino Acids along with my own desired flavors/scents. You can basically mix flour and corn meal with many different things like grinded liver, sardines, clams, etc. You then add Anise, Vanilla Extract, Garlic Powder, Salt, Sugar, etc. These make awesome baits that outperform the store bought baits.
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