By Brian Edwards
Would you like to fill your freezer with a year’s worth of fish after just one trip? Would you like to feel one of the strongest freshwater fish in the world on the other end of your line? I am assuming all fisherman would answer “yes” to those questions. If that is the case with you, it’s time for you to try your luck with the flathead catfish in the fall. October and November bring the best flathead catfish bite in our area. The water temperature is dropping, but it has not gotten to the point where the flatheads dig down in the mud and checkout for the winter. During the fall, flathead catfish are filling their bellies and preparing for a long winter. Prime time for catfishermen. As the top predators around, flathead catfish eat when they feel like it. They do not fit the typical catfish stereotype. They are not scavengers like other catfish are known for. They like live bait fish, and they want it when they are ready……on their timetable.
Once you hook a flathead, the battle begins. Flatheads dive down and straight for cover (logs, holes, etc…) and put up a fight that is not quickly forgotten. They usually don’t make long runs, like blue catfish do, but they will fight with steady, powerful pulling and jerking. Better have some strong line and strong arms if you hook a big one.
SC Catfishermen are very fortunate. We have some great rivers and lakes that are loaded with big flatheads. Two of the most popular are the Santee Lakes and The Big Pee Dee River. It is not uncommon to hear about 40 – 50 lb. flatheads being caught consistently at Santee or in The Big Pee Dee. Two weeks ago my Father and I caught nine that weighed from 18 lbs. – 35 lbs. in Santee. We couldn’t fit all of the meat in the freezer!
When fishing for these big flatheads, proper equipment and tackle is key. Heavy line is a must. Some fisherman will even use line as strong as 150-lb. test/braid to ensure that the big flatheads do not break off. Like I said earlier, flatheads want live bait. Live shad, herring, perch, and bream are great bait. Put the bait right off of the bottom. Most of the time, when a flathead bites, it will not run or pull violently immediately. Most of the time, you will see a slow bend in the rod. Then, when you set the hook……..it’s on!
“Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime.”