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First time chasin Flatheads, Now I'm hooked!


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I went out chasing flatheads with a buddy for the first time on friday night before the storms and had a blast. I ended up catching this little guy, my first ever flathead and Chris caught a 30 inch Channel cat.


I was using my muskie gear, as I don't own any Cat gear. I was very suprised, this little dude fought like a 40 inch muskie. I was suprised to see how small he was when he came to the surface. My imagination ran wild thinking about what it might be like to battle a 20 or 30 lb Flathead and I knew I had found a new favorite specie to chase. Right before the storms rolled through, my buddy Chris caught the 30inch Channel cat. We were disappointed to be forced of the water at 10:30. When I got home, I spent the next 3 hours reading as many posts on here as I could to try and learn more.

We decided to go out again Sunday night. I ended up catching my first decent Flathead as the sun was getting low on the horizon on sucker cut bait. Unfortunately I didn't get a measurement, I just wanted to get it back in the water.


Then a little bit later, right a dusk, Chris caught what I consider a monster, although it's much smaller than many I've seen on this HSOforum. It was 34 inches. What do you guys think it weighs?


I ended up catching one more 26 incher well after dark.


I do have some newbie questions. We were fishing above a log jam where the depth breaks extremely fast from shore down to 25 ft. The 2 fish on friday bite live suckers and all the fish Sunday were caught on cut bait. It was weird because it seemed like we had the most action around dusk and it slowed way down after dark. Is there a differnt kind of structure/area we should be targeting after dark, i.e. do the fish move up on the shallower flats or out into faster water to feed or something? Does anybody care to share a pond where bullheads are easily caught around White Bear Lake or in Woodbury? The Suckers get expensive fast and seemed to die quickly once on the hook. You can PM me if you don't want to put it on here.

Over all, I think it was a pretty succesful weekend and I can't wait to get out again and maybe catch a big dog. I wish I would've tried this ALONG time ago! Thanks to everyone who has shared their knowledge on here, I've learned a lot already. Hopefully I'll see some of you out on the river soon.

Thanks. Ed

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Congrats man!!!!

I can't really give a lick of advice as I'm a cat novice. However, I've gone out a few times with some good friends of mine that are pretty darn good sticks. Holy cow did I have a good time. Yeah, if you can get into some flatties you're going to have a good time, for sure.

No clue what the weight of those fish are. Hopefully some other guys more in the know will log in and let you know what they think.

Again, congrats.

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Ed congrats on starting the addiction. I can't help you any with bullhead spots in the metro; search around and you may find a few.

The muskie gear is sufficient and I think a lot of guys start by using muskie gear. I know I did; the large stiff rods, baitcasters, and heavy line lend themselves quite well to catfish.

The beauty of targetting flatheads is you get the muskie experience (fighting a large fish) without the countless hours and casts, although for me personally this year it's felt like muskie fishing in the countless hours with few fish to show for it category.

With time you are going to want to purchase catfish specific gear...heavy rods with super fast tips that relay what your bait is doing, high visibility superlines, baitcast reels with clickers. You'll also want to pay attention to your terminal tackle; there are plenty of beginner threads in this forum that cover that.

The spot you described with the shallow flat and snag above a deep pool sounds like an excellent flathead spot. In time, like any sort of river fishing, you become skilled at reading the river. Don't be surprised with a flurry of activity at sunset and then things cooling down. That's pretty typical. Other times the crescendos come at odd hours; midnight, just before sunrise...you never quite know.

After dark some folks like to leave snags, the thought being that the fish that inhabited them in the day have also moved. After dark spots could be above holes, on current seams (not all current seams are created equal but some seem to be important year round...this can be contrasted to more seasonal spots like creek mouths or rocks), at pinch points, along substantial depth changes, etc. There's a lot of river to break down so if you can find spots before dark in the light that you'd like to fish and go back and hit them later, you are doing yourself a favor. I think of flatheads as opportunistic ambush predators. Find a spot where a kitty is chugging along or loafing by, put a loud bait near him, and he's likely to go find and kill it and then you've got a fish on.

I hope this helps. I used to remember what a flathead looks like but this year for me, they are few and far between.

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Oh yeah, from now on if you catch a flathead, take a measurement of total length and girth at the widest point. DTro from this forum has created a useful mathematic conversion for length that is a very tight fit to true weight.

The formula, that you should commit to memory, is (length*length*girth)/1275

A 34 inch flathead would have a girth from about 19-24 inches most likely. Let's go with 21.5 right in the middle. That would make your fish just under 20 pounds.

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It doesn't take a brain surgeon to figure Ed was just bit by the bug. grin

It doesn't matter if you've been fishing 1 year or 10 years, you will always second guess your spots and what you might have did right or wrong.

If you are catching fish you are doing something right. Keep doing it until it doesn't work then try something else.

With the water level and flow right now, we've found fish a little deeper and relating to the main channel. My general rule of thumb is if the flow is high and fast find slow water and when it's slow and low find fast water.

Good luck!

oh and that fish is about 17lbs +/- 3

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Thank's everyone. I forgot the most important question, How do you keep your wives happy when you get home at 3am stinking like cutbait and flathead slime eek

stay till 4am next time then she'll knowe your serious about fishing flatheads grin

As DTro said keep doing what your doing as it is working very well for you looks like you had some really great success and congrats on your first of many and now you can call your fishing stuff cat gear and everything will be fine after that. grin

Hope to see you on the water sometime.

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Well for a rookie weekend, it looks like you had AWESOME success. I would say keep doing more of what you're doing. You're mixing both live and cutbait, which is good. You're on fish, which is also good. If there are small and medium flatties around, odds are there's some big ones too!

Good luck out there. In addition to sucker minnows or bullheads, you might try to catch some creek chubs or sheephead, they will make good live bait too.

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have you tried in the channel under the bridge that goes to the island on white bear? seems like a likely spot for bullheads. the small lakes around stillwater have them too, just gotta find a decent shore spot on one and fish at dusk. spots where creeks dump into the smaller lakes are usually pretty good too at dusk.

for what it's worth i've seem and caught more flatheads around 8:30pm than any other time, but i'm not out much after midnight.

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It was kind of a funny story as to how we even ended up going to the river for cats in the first place. Ed wanted to go up to Mille Lacs on a charter to chase walleyes after work on Friday and he picked me up and we started making the trek. We got to about Anoka and hit traffic and started talking about the P2 catfish contest I fished in with my wife's cousin last month and how cool it was to work with the DNR and get the caught fish tagged and released unharmed. We didn't place, but i had an awesome time and was hooked from there, but have been too busy to get out again frown. We started talking about if we turned around at the next exit, we could be fishing cats sooner than we'd be at Mille Lacs. We got off at the next exit, turned around, got bait, picked up my boat from work and we were on the river fishing at about the same time the we would've been getting into Garrison grin. And I am very glad we did because we just decided to pick a spot from what I've read here and luckily we caught fish. We had to keep an eye on the storm rolling in and left the river just as it was about to hit us, otherwise we probably would've stayed until sunrise and I don't think our wives would've liked that too much. I appreciate all of the posts and wealth of knowledge all of you share on this forum as it has helped us get hooked on cats smile

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Ditching walleyes is how it begins.....

Yes, this sounds like me. I have a crestliner 1850 sportfish, and the primary reason I bought it was because it made for a reasonable walleye boat -- not the ideal boat, but it was capable of fishing my (then) favorite waters -- Mille Lacs, Upper Red, etc. Plus, it was family-friendly (nice deep side rails, etc... Well, three years later I started fishing cats, and I haven't gone back to URL since, and only been back to Mille Lacs once or twice in the 5 years since I've started fishing cats.

I even had to buy a second boat to handle low-water on the MN river because the sportfish isn't exactly tree- and rock-friendly.

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Congrats man! Let the addiction begin - but be careful, I swear I go through withdrawal during ice season ... It's that addictive!!

That's why you need to head to the chain and ice some channels during the winter. this helps the withdrawl.

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