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