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Blue Kayak

How Many Hours to Catch a 30 Pound Flathead

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There have been several different posts on both the Catfish forum and the Minnesota River forum speculating about catching a large flathead. I looked at the results from the 2008 Belle Plaine Catfish League (BPCL) and learned a few interesting facts about the length of time it takes for league members to catch flatheads. These are experienced catfish anglers fishing from boats on the Minnesota River between Mankato and the confluence of the Minnesota River with the Mississippi River.

There were 14 league members in 2008, we fished six evenings, for six hours each night. The time slot was from 7:00 PM to 1:00 AM. This is a total of 504 man hours.

For the 2008 season, 29 flatheads were registered for the BPCL. These would have been the largest fish caught by an angler for any of the six league nights. More flatheads were caught, as some anglers caught more than one flathead on a league night. However, only the size of the largest one caught by an angler for an individual league night was submitted.

Of those 29 flatheads, only four were likely to have been 30 pounds or larger. This is based on the formula of (length * length * girth)/1275. That means it took about 126 man hours for each 30 pound or larger flathead.

These were the combined lengths and girths of the five largest flatheads:

75.5 Probably just under 50 pounds

68 Probably around 32 pounds

66.5 Around 30

65 Close to 30

63 Under 30

It is interesting that there is a clumping around the 30 pound mark and no fish in the mid 30 to mid 40 pound range. This makes me think that the one near 50 pounds was a fluke. I would expect you would have to fish much more than 500 hours to be confident of getting a 50 pound or larger flathead.

Another interesting statistic was that there were 84 opportunities (14 members times 6 league nights) to catch a flathead. Only 29 flats were recorded, which gives a batting average of only 34.5 percent. In other words, nearly two out of of three league nights the average member was skunked for flatheads.

In spite of all the large pictures you see on this forum, and nights when people report catching multiple flatheads, these fish are not that easy to catch. Once you know the basics (tackle, bait, currents, holes, etc.), it still takes time on the water.

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Great Report! I was considering trying to do something like that on a little smaller scale.

Nice way to break it down into a very easy to understand quantifiable means, the league makes for great platform to pull pretty reliable and consistent information and data.


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Good post, Jerry!

That would explain why I haven't caught a 30 pounder yet this year...I've only been out 18-22 times, averaging 5 hours per time, so probably 100 personal hours on the river. I'm close.

This is more ammunition for me when talking to the wife and explaining that I need to spend more time on the river. wink

Maybe tonight is the night. That's what I think every night....but I might as well start each night with some confidence, right?

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i've maybe fished for catfish 100 hours in my life and already have 5 over 30 lbs plus another 5-6 under.

So how many of them are still swimming?

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It’s funny how statistics always work out in the end. The laws of averages always catch up.

You can go forever without catching one, then next thing you know, you caught 5 or 6 in as many outings.

I wonder how many hours to catch a 30”er laugh I do believe I’m ahead of the curve on that one this year. I’m running out of fingers and toes to keep track.

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