How to Use Bluegills for Flathead Bait

Prepare Your Bluegill Bait for Success

As a flathead fisherman, you spend countless hours preparing, just in case “the big one” bites. The last thing you would want is the fish spitting your bait before you set the hook. How do you prevent this? By a pair of 99¢ nail clippers and keep them close by.

Bluegills have a spiny dorsal fin used as a defense mechanism.  When a predator attempts to swallow them, the bluegill will flex their dorsal fin to puncture the predator.

To ensure “the big one” can swallow without hesitation, you will need to disarm the bluegill by following these simple steps:

  1. Lay the bluegill on your palm (non-dominant hand).
  2. Take the tips of your fingers with the same hand (non-dominant hand) and work the dorsal fin out flat, exposing the spines.
  3. Take the nail clippers and snip the sharp ends off about a quarter inch down. Do this to every spiny fin until the dorsal fin is smooth.
  4. Hook your bluegill in your preferred spot and you are ready to fish!

Good luck fishing and please send White Buffalo Outdoors a picture of your next monster flathead and we would be happy to post in the Trophy Room!

Justin J. Lind

September 2017
White Buffalo Outdoors

How to Flathead Fish

How to Flathead Fish: The Basics

Is fishing in the hot sun getting old?  Do you find yourself sitting on your couch on a Saturday night wishing you were fishing?  Are you new to fishing altogether?

I’ve been an avid angler since a child, fishing for walleyes, crappie, and Northern Pike.  Like most anglers, I find my “fix” during the winter months, sitting on a bucket, and staring at a hole drilled through the ice.  I even venture down to Texas a few times a year, casting for speckled trout, flounder, red fish, and bull sharks.

Fishing for all these different species, I always find myself gravitating back to flathead fishing.  Many assume flathead fishing comes easy because the fish falls under the catfish family, which is abundant worldwide.  However, this is far from the truth.  Flathead fishing takes skill, creativity, organization, and patience. This article lists the necessities and basic strategies needed for you to be successful on your new angling adventure – flathead fishing.

Gear and Tools Needed

Heavy duty rod and reel (2)
Headlamp (for each person)
Spotlight (1)
Large net (1)
Bug spray (1)
Large pair of pliers (1)
Large heavy duty stringer (1)
Comfortable chair (for each person)
Nail clippers (to cut fishing line)
Cooler with aerator (if you’re using live bait)
Bait net
State fishing license

Suggested Tackle

30-50 pound test line for reel (bring extra)
Large J style hook (10-15)
2-3 ounce egg style sinkers (10-15)
Ball bearing swivels with split rings (10-15)


Flathead are predators and they prey on other fish and live baits.  Common baits used by flathead anglers include: shad, crayfish, bullheads and nightcrawlers.  My preference for bait is live bluegills about 3-4 inches in length.  If you use bluegills, it is crucial to keep them alive in a cooler full of water and an aerator. You must change the water out every half hour if the outside air temperature is high.  In cooler weather, you can get away with changing the water every two hours.

Checking your state laws on what bait is legal to use is also important.  If you cannot find this information, call your local conservation officer and ask.

Where to Fish

Knowing where to fish for flathead takes experience and perseverance. My first suggestion when fishing a new location is to study an aerial map of the river. It may be advantageous to check out the location in person to study the structures, sand bars, deep holes, and currents.

When night approaches, fish different portions of the river and change spots every 45 minutes. Doing this, will allow you to piece together where and what the fish are doing.

There are many variables to consider, such as: air temperature, water temperature, bait hatches, river levels, and spawns. The only way to understand the variables is to get on the river and be creative!

Most Important

Have fun and learn on the way! The Internet will not have all the answers. Only experience with a little luck will set you on the right path down the river.

Justin J. Lind

September 2017
White Buffalo Outdoors

Bank Pole Fishing

How to Fish with Bank Poles: 7 Tips You Must Know

Ignore the diagrams and all the theories behind them.  Scanning the Internet I have come across drawings, illustrations, and long drawn-out descriptions on how to bank pole correctly.  Weather, location, and the time of the year is just a few variables that can make a complicated diagram wrong.  Running bank poles since I was a young child, I have navigated the strong currents of every type of river with fishermen of varying expertise. Over the years, I have learned how to fish with bank poles in the most efficient and safe way.

1. Don’t Over Think It

The new guy in the front of the boat is pointing in excitement, “Let’s put one there, put one there!”  An hour later, the bank pole is bouncing with a fish on it.

There is no standard spot for a bank pole.  Most fishermen will tell you to find a deep bank that is straight up and down with little to no current.  This is absolutely true.  However, I have seen experienced fishermen put their bank poles on a sand bar with only a foot or two of water and catch 50 pound flathead.  Their theory, the fish come in the shallows at night to feed, especially sand bars full of bait fish.  How do you know where to fish?  Trial and error.  Try the deep banks and try shallow areas.  Put a bank pole in a spot you think you would never catch a fish.  If you start catching fish in this spot consider moving your bank poles to similar locations.

2. Take Your Time

When setting the poles out take your time driving the boat and baiting the hooks.  Every person in the boat has their specific job and everybody should work as a team.  Rushing to get the poles out can lead to injury, like somebody getting hooked or thrown out of the boat.  Like any outdoor sport, stay methodical and keep your head in the game.

3. Pull Debris Away

Before deploying any bank poles I always check to see if there is debris in the water where I want to drop my hook. It is also useful to carefully stick your bank pole in the water to feel around for debris. If there is debris on the surface, simply pull it out with your hands and toss it on the bank. Never submerge your hands in the water after you have dropped your hook. Any movement from the boat or passenger in the boat can put your arms and hands in jeopardy of being hooked.

A few minutes of preparation increases your chances of keeping your bait alive and ultimately landing a fish. Another way to avoid debris is…


How to Fish with Bank Poles
Purchase Bank Pole Shirt
4. Push Bank Poles in Straight

Having the tips of the bank poles pointed towards the sky means the hook will be closer to the bank, increasing the chances of snags.  Rather, push the bank poles straight in with the tips facing towards the other side of the river.  This allows you to use the length of the pole to your advantage by keeping the hook further away from any tree roots growing under the surface.

5. Buy a Big Net

Having a fish of a lifetime and not having a large enough net is every fishermen’s nightmare.  In this situation, somebody usually braves the elements and puts their hand in the mouth of a thrashing fish.. With a hook lurking close by and a moving boat, the fish may not be the only one being hooked.

6. Check Bank Poles Frequently

The rule of thumb is to check bank poles once every hour.  You will not catch fish if there is no bait on your hooks and you will lose fish if they are on your hooks for a long period of time. However, it is important to stay far from your bank poles when they are baited.

7. Think Outside the Box

Get creative and always try new spots! Test deep and shallow waters with varying currents. Experiment with different depths and bait. Put two bank poles right next to one another or spread them out down the river. It is important to try something new every time you go out. Overtime, you will see patterns and become familiar on how to catch fish in your specific area on the river. If you really want to learn how to fish with bank poles, listen to your gut instinct – it never lies.

You got to check out this bank pole shirt I designed – Flathead Catfish Bank Pole Fishing Shirt

Feel free to read me catfishing fishing articles :

Drift Fishing for Catfish: 2 Critical Tips You Must Know

How to Light Fishing Poles for Night Fishing

How to Hook Live Bluegill Bait for Flathead Catfish

How to Flathead Fish: The Basics

Justin J. Lind

October 2017
White Buffalo Outdoors

White Buffalo Outdoors

Fishing for Education: The J.P. Griffon Memorial Fishing Tournament

On May 19, 2017 316 fishermen left the port of Port Mansfield, Texas to participate in one of the United States largest inshore fishing tournaments, the J.P. Griffon Memorial Fishing Tournament.  Winners of the fishing tournament bring home only “bragging rights and a small trophy.”  All proceeds raised from the tournament go to scholarships for deserving students of Friendswood High School.

The tournament first started in 1988 by the Griffon Family, in memory of J.P. Griffon.  With only close friends and family, 7 boats and 29 anglers fished Port Mansfield, raising $500.  Growing every year, the tournament now raises on average $20,000 annually.

This year, 83 registered teams of 4, woke-up early Friday morning ready to compete in the Texas heat. Each team was allowed to weigh-in 5 speckled trout, 3 red fish, and 2 flounder a day.  Teams can enter 1 of the 3 divisions which includes an open, guided, and hardware.

Saturday night after the tournament fishermen came together for a banquet remembering J.P. and a lifetime member of the tournament, Donald Douglas Ziegelbein “Donny Z”.  At the banquet, fishermen shared their weekend fishing stories while listening to live music and eating fish.

View more about the J.P. Griffon Memorial Fishing Tournament.

Justin J. Lind

November 2017
White Buffalo Outdoors

Married to a Fisherman? 10 Reasons Why You Are the Luckiest Person in the World

3 Reasons Iowa Outdoorsmen are Awesome

Iowa Outdoorsmen are their own breed, and that’s a fact.

Hunting season begins in early September and the Iowa hunters are hitting the fields calling in geese, harvesting doves, and preparing their deer stands for bow season. With one eye on their game, they have another on the Iowa football games. At this time, outdoor sports rival A.M. radio for attention.

As October arrives, they drive right into duck hunting, all-the-while anticipating the deer rut and shotgun season ahead. Meanwhile, trappers are at work in the woods helping farmers control their raccoon and coyote populations.

The Iowa winter comes with a force late December, blanketing the ground with snow and ice. The outdoorsmen take advantage of this, kicking up pheasants while fishermen sit on buckets praying for a few pan fish.

The wet spring arrives, bringing out the fishermen looking for northern pike, crappie, and walleye. The turtle trappers are soon to follow, hitting the backwaters and setting their nets.

Behind the turtle trappers come the mosquitos and summer heat. Now it is the disciplined catfishermen’s turn to venture out at night in hopes of catching the state record.

With the fast-pace outdoor way of life, the Iowa outdoorsmen have no time to realize the benefits of their actions:

1. Funding Fish and Wildlife Habitat

According to Zohrer (2006), “Fish and wildlife conservation programs in Iowa have been funded nearly entirely from license fees paid by hunters and anglers and by Federal excise taxes collected on hunting and fishing equipment” (p.1).

2. $30 Million to Be Exact

Yes, Iowa Outdoorsmen give $30 million ANNUALLY to fish and wildlife habitat, benefiting the entire ecosystem of Iowa and the entire United States.

3. Only 147 Species are Hunted, Fished or Trapped in Iowa…..

Yet, Iowa Outdoorsmen contribute funds to conserve over 999 Iowa species (Zohrer, 2006, p.1).

Thank you to all Iowa Outdoorsmen for your continued support and contributions to the fish and wildlife of Iowa.

Check out my other article – Iowa Blood Tracking Dogs Are Wagging Their Tails in Excitement

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Justin J. Lind

January 2018
White Buffalo Outdoors


Zohrer, J. J. (2006). Securing a Future For Fish and Wildlife A Conservation Legacy for Iowans.

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