Flathead Fishing


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Now this is a neat little rig I designed to be able to bring those big flathead catfish outta the rocks without losing the fish due to hanging the sinker in the rocks and the fish break the hook out of the Dropper Loop ... now if you're not useing light line you don't have to mess with tieing the shock line on. I use light line 14# to 17# test and you have to use a shock line to throw large sinkers on light line.

If you're using a spincaster with about 25# test line and throwing a 5 oz sinker you won't need to use the shock line ... just tie your main line onto the 150# test trotline nylon (I use the black tarred nylon you are able to find at most walmarts) with a hook placed on the 3 foot to 4 foot of nylon line tie loops in each end so you can tie the mainline to one end and the breakaway line and sinker to the bottom end. then put the hook where ever you want it like in the middle and tie your dropper loop ... for flathead the longer the dropper loop the better but you must realize that the longer the dropper loop the more it's going to helecopter when casting so if you have to cast way out use a shorter dropper loop.

On the breakaway line use the lightest line you can throw ... I can't throw with anything less than 40# test if I'm swinging the sinker to cast using centrifugal force but if I just cast like a normal cast ... just throwing it without swinging the sinker I can use 25# test pretty easily to throw my 6oz weights. A big flatcat or blue can break 40# test but if it's just a 12 to 15 lb fish in calm water they most likely can't break the 40# test line until the rub it on the rocks a while ... don't worry cause the fish can't get loose by breaking the 150# test dropper loop line. It'll eventually break the breakaway line and it normally doesn't take too long if the rocks you're fishing are like Keystone's bottom beyond the pylons to the east cause most all those rocks are pretty jagged with sharp edges. This doesn't hold true every time though so that's why you need to use as light a breakaway line as you can throw according to distance you're throwing and how much umph you're putting into the cast.

Now the size of the hook is just a matter of preference ... I've been using this rig lately with 2/0 eagle claw baitholders using shadheads for bait and catching quite a few flathead catfish and blue catfish like this. The water is low at night when they turn off the turbines at the dam ... mostly 4 to 6 feet all the way accross and nothing but big rocks line the bottom so you can see why this type rigging is needed when you tie into a 20 lb or bigger fish. If you're using whole live perch you should use a large trotline hook like 6/0 or 7/0 or similar.

The size of the sinker doesn't matter ... if you're throwing 3 oz then use 3 oz ... same if you're using 5's ... you don't have to do anything different there.

Flathead Fishing
If you want to use lighter line like I do but want to throw large weights you will have to use a shock line ... the size of the shock line should be 10 lbs for every ounce of weight your sinker is that you're wanting to throw ... like 4 oz should be 40# test. This is what the distance casters go by ... I use 40# to throw 6 oz weights though and it works pretty well but here's how you do it .... spool your reel with the lighter line and then tie on the shock line using the Albright Knot and then crank the reel handle spooling up line until the shock line makes at least 3 wraps on the spool and then pull the line down to the bottom eye closest to the reel and cut it ... if you're using a 14' pole the shock line will be about 22 feet long approximately then put your hook on the end of the shock line and slide it up and then tie your sinker on ... put the hook up about 2.5 feet above the sinker and tie your dropper loop for the hook or use the flathead rig shown above and you're ready to bait up and let it fly.

Using this rigging with the Sinker Sacrificer would be a better idea most likely as it's a more sure way of breaking off in the proper place. I came up with this rigging when fishing that flood water behind the dam ... you had to fish in the rocks anyhow and I was getting large fish to bite but they'd just bust the hook right out of the dropper loop and then you have to reel in and retie everything ... this flathead rigging stopped all that noise and when the fish would break something it would always break the sinker off leaving you free to reel his junky butt into the bank.

Ya'll let me know if you have more questions on this... I'll try to explain it better if I can.

Question: So those big fish stayed in deeper water to feed after dark?What depth are you targeting flatheads this time of year?

Answer: Anywhere they're at. I don't fish a specific depth or spot ... I actively search for fish and when I find them I fish for them. flathead fishing is more of a spot and stalk sort of thing where I use my fish location methods to find them, whether it's in a mass of crappie structure or around it or along the river channel or whatever. I don't just stop at any likely spot and fish unless it's just to see if what I'm seeing is not correct but it usually is ... if my instincts tell me there should be fish there and I'm not locating them then sometimes I'll stop and fish but that doesn't happen too often. the scenarios are different sometimes but if I think that there should be fish in a spot then I'll go ahead and try it and if nothing happens pretty quick then I'll have confirmed my suspicions that what I was seeing was in fact, correct. the more and more that I confirm that there's not fish in an area by my fish location methods the less and less times I'll stop and fish areas that I think there should be fish there even though I'm not seeing any ... one of these days I think I might be good enough at fish location that I can go completely by my fish location methods and depend completely on that because right now I feel that if I don't locate fish in a spot then I will almost never catch any there, if that makes any sense at all. like if I feel like there should be fish in an area and there are none that I see by using my fish location methods then I'm getting more and more confident in my fish location methods when I confirm that there are no fish there by fishing there. so I don't feel like it'll be long before I can go through a scenario like that and then go totally by my fish location methods instead of wasting any time by confirming it by fishing that spot even though I'm just thinking there should be fish there. Here's one of the scenarios I'm talking about ... a current eddy situation where the river is falling slowly and this is an ideal time to hit a current eddy type of spot because normally when the river is rising the fish move up into the rivers and out in the flooded grasses to feed heavily and the moment that the river crests the bite just shuts off right about the time it crests and people think that the fish just quit biting when this happens but they don't ... what they do is just relocate and usually one of the spots they relocate to is current eddys back towards the lake. so knowing this, I'll pull back to one of those current eddys that are usually full of fish and locate them and catch the snot out of them ... but when I pull into a current eddy and I don't locate any fish I'll sometimes go ahead and fish it just to make sure that what I'm seeing is correct ... usually about 90% of the time if I don't locate any fish then there aren't any fish there ... might be more than 90% accurate but that 10% of the time that I don't see any and there are actually quite a few fish there is what makes me waste time unnecessarily. that 5 to 10% may not be accurate either but it may be closer to 1 or 2% of the time as I really don't remember a time right now that when I didn't locate any fish there were actually fish there and we caught some ... I don't know if I'm explaining this properly or if all this is getting really convoluted. what I'm saying is that I should just stop thinking that there's a possibility that there's fish in a spot that I can't locate any in. I should trust my fish location methods 100% of the time and there would be 0-zero time wasted on fishing spots that I just think there should be fish in cause there almost never is any if I didn't locate any there.

my fish location methods when I'm flathead fishin is like that also ... I don't like to sit on a good spot for flatheads when I don't see any even though I know there's a good possibility that there should be a flathead or two patrol through that area that night ... I want to see them and then try to catch them instead of waiting and since keystone doesn't provide that great of flathead fishing any more since it's been snaglined to death then I don't normally go flathead fishin all that often. cause I could literally spend the whole night searching for fish and never find any on keystone ... I've been thinking about going to one or two of these smaller city lakes and check those out cause I think it'd be pretty easy for me to find some flathead where snaglining isn't allowed ... would be a fun trip I think. it would pose some problems though as I wouldn't know where any of the structure is in order to search for them. the flathead in keystone that I search for would be out in the main channels right now and off points occasionally so it's a little different than fishing a small city lake like cb as those flathead wouldn't be effected by current too much or baitfish out in the lake like they are on keystone so I'd have to adjust to those flathead possibly only being up in 2 to 8 ft of water where knowing where the good crappie structure and stuff like that would be essential to catching flathead. They might be out on those points though, if there was enough baitfish in the small city lakes or they'd probably patrol those areas just like they would on keystone. ain't likely though cause there needs to be a good amount of baitfish on points to have flathead come to them and I don't think CB, Stroud, hominy or McMurtry flathead would pay any attention to points but they might. I'd have to get out there and check them out to see but I think I'd try to locate crappie structure instead and then patrol the areas over and over, two or three times per night and canvas the area around them in order to find any flathead on those lakes ... or that'd be my plan anyhow. may not work worth spit though. I think it would however as there would be some old resident flatties that would hang around the crappie structure for a good amount of time when they're feeding. I think flathead are three day biters though or that's what I call them as I've noticed some patterns on flathead by fishing down at the dam every night for months or almost every night and it seemed like about every three days they'd bite good on the third day. that's just how it seemed so a person would have to hit it just right it seems like to find them out and about but all of them may not be on the same time table either. but if you'll notice when you're flathead fishin ya might catch two or three one night and then go two or three days and not catch any and then catch two or three more. I've never seen too many times when it was consecutive days in catching flathead consistently for several days in a row except when there were special circumstances involved like flooding that produces a good opportunity for the fish to fee easily and they take advantage of that and then sometimes us fishermen can take advantage of those consecutive days but that don't happen very often at all ... I don't think it'd ever happen in smaller lakes though cause it's totally different. most all this typing is just me rambling on about different aspects as that seems like that's what your question implies as you're just wanting some kind of info on targetting flatheads but I could probably type for 5 or 6 hours and not get all the info in here. it'll seem like rambling too. so I'll try to wrap this up. somehow. hahaha. but, my thinking as how flathead seem to be on a three day cycle it's impossible to figure this out without being out there every night and possibly not fishing at all. just patrolling crappie structure nightly, all night long in order to get some kind of facts or a good theory as to how flathead feed and possibly log this info and keep tabs on how the weather plays a roll in the situation as that's a big factor when flathead are concerned ... when fronts come through it seems to turn flatheads on ... especially in the fall when the water is getting down to 60 and a little below ... you can almost count on flathead to bite when a front comes through in Oct, Nov, and early december if it's been a little bit warm through november and early december ... when a front rolls in through times that the water temp is 60 to 55 you can bet that you'll almost always catch a flathead on cut bait or there's a good possibility that you will as they get really active during and when the front is pushing that cold or cool north wind across the water. I've caught lots of flats on cut bait down below the dam right after fronts come in through october, november. so the fronts will provide a window of opportunity for flathead fishermen. or they usually do anyhow. this may be the way they act in those small lakes ya'll have been fishing too so I wouldn't pass up that opportunity if you can remember and get a chance to check it out later this fall. right now the flathead on keystone won't be the same as what they are in those smaller lakes cause nothing changes quite as fast on those smaller lakes as it does on keystone because you have several things changing right now on keystone and one of the main things is the displacement current. the water level is falling and they have the flood gates open but the fish aren't acting like it's falling as it's consistent current created by the open flood gates. so this in itself is what seperates a lake like keystone from the smaller lakes where flathead will be patrolling the shoreline looking for bluegill and crappie structure looking for crappie. keystone has the displacement currents and lots of shad out in the main channel so the flathead are in those lake channels and even out on the flats somewhat feeding heavy since it's post spawn time and they're hungry and they have to put on some weight to get ready for winter. this is where I'll be looking for flathead on keystone is along the channels and near submerged trees as there are several out there on those flats that have gotten stuck in the silt mud and I know where a lot of them are and even crappie structure out there as there's lots of that that people have put in the lake so I'd do my patrolling of the submerged trees and along the river channels, humps and depressions. the last trip I was fishing for mainly big fish and trying to find them all night but I didn't find but 4 or 5 big fish the last night we went ... we worked on one fish that was just lying there even after I'd passed over him several times with the boat ... he wouldn't move but he wouldn't bite either ... the only movement I seen him do was to rise up off bottom some but that was it ... there weren't any lines in the area either or we'd have gotten hung up on it. I tried cut and live bluegill and shad and that was odd as well as the only flathead we caught came in on cut shad ... they didn't want the live bluegill last night. the one that broke the rod holder off bit on cut bluegill. so this scenario that we have on keystone doesn't in any way resemble any situation on the smaller lakes where the flathead will be coming up to the shorelines patrolling them. this post is getting out of control now as I think when I hit the submit button my puter is liable to lock up hahaha so I'm gonn quit ... if you have any more questions or if I didn't cover it well enough then let me know.

Flathead Fishing