Flathead catfish are most commonly found in rivers, lakes, although some have populations of the species as well. Fishermen head to flathead catfish because they reach large sizes – 100 pounds or more – and fight hard once they are hooked. On the other hand, they are not easy to catch fish, and catching them often requires fishermen to be in the water, while the rest of the world is asleep.
Flathead catfish look a lot like other catfish: They have beards that hang around their mouths and have a smooth skin instead of scales, but their flat head that distinguishes them from other cats. They usually prefer deep, muddy waters that do not flow fast, and are often found around holes and overgrown cover. In low light conditions, flatheads move on sandbars and shallow areas, where they look for food. Unlike most catfish, flatheads are captured mainly in live bait.
On the one hand, fishermen can enjoy catching flathead catfish because of its large size. For many anglers, a flat 50-pound head is the fish of his life. But flatheads are not a good option for people looking for a fish meal. Part of the reason is because the flathead catfish are large and live long, which means they eat other smaller fish, so contaminants like mercury bio-accumulate in their meat. As with most fish species, the youngest smaller fish are the best to eat.
Flathead catfish bite mainly at night, so the fishermen that they target often do so sometime after midnight. While fishermen do not have to endure boat traffic for flathead catfish fishing, fishing at night has its own set of challenges. On the one hand, most people like to sleep at night. But fishing at night is also more dangerous, especially if you fish for catfish in an unknown body of water.
Effects of ecosystems
In many places where they are found, flathead catfish are popular with fishermen. That popularity has led some state agencies to stock flathead catfish in waters outside their natural range. But in most flathead systems they are the predatory fish and have harmed some ecosystems by damaging populations of native species.