What’s The Best Time to Fish For Flathead Catfish?

What’s the best time to fish for flathead catfish?

Anytime will work but the time of the day isn’t necessarily the most critical factor to uncover when it comes to catching flathead catfish with some skill and efficiency.

Just locating them, in general, is another critical component to ensuring that you have the best chances of landing flathead catfish with ease.

This isn’t overly difficult. If there is a will, there is a way. A few basic pointers and we will be able to get you catching more flathead catfish in no time. If you haven’t done so already and you’re a beginner catfish angler, always feel free to start with my guide about catfish fishing. It covers everything you need to know in one easy post from A-Z.

Let’s jump into some of the specifics such as the best time to fish for flathead catfish and how to effectively locate them.

What’s The Best Time to Fish For Flathead Catfish?

Alright, let’s dive into some specifics on flathead catfish. The first thing to keep in mind is what I’ve already mentioned. Location can be equally as important as the best time to fish for flatheads. We have two main ways of breaking down the hours in a day when it comes to fishing for flathead catfish.

We have:

  • Night Time Catfishing for Flatheads
  • Daytime Catfishing for Flatheads

Let’s look at some of the key facts about the behavior of flathead catfish during these times.

At night, the flatheads will be prowling for food. This will last all the way up until the morning hours. This doesn’t really change with climate or if it’s too hot or too cold necessarily. It’s just the natural patterns of these fish.

During the day, you must be much more selective about bait placement and finding deep holes with a lot of cover if you want a chance at effectively catching flatheads.

Do the Math

If this is the case, let’s do some simple math on the situation. We can either attempt to fish for flathead catfish at night when they are actively feeding but their location may be unknown, or we can find the areas of cover during the day and know exactly where they are.

Keep in mind that just because they aren’t “actively trolling” for food sources, does not mean they will not eat if the bait finds them and presents itself decently to where it’s almost irresistible for the catfish to refuse.

It Comes Down to Preference

This is when the decision on when the best time to fish for flatheads really comes down to your decision and your decision only. They will eat all hours of the day if you execute properly. However, some catfish anglers don’t like targeting cover or dealing with the possibility of snags and other headaches that can come with that form of catfishing.

Some anglers also don’t have the luxury to fish after dark due to their career or just overall lifestyle doesn’t support the hobby in that manner.

Decide What’s Best for You and Learn to Improve

If night fishing is your cup of tea than you need to start learning the behaviors and where the flatheads will roam at these times so that you can effectively intercept them searching for there next meal. It does you no good, if they strike a tasty bluegill before running into your bait. They typically don ‘t wanders off to far into the night from their original nesting spot.

So, what’s the bad news here? Well, regardless of your overall game plan, it still sounds like you have the daunting task of locating the flatheads before your going to hit the best time to fish for flathead catfish.

Now let’s assume it’s the opposite and you prefer fishing in the Daytime for Flatheads

If this is the case, it’s easy in theory. You just need to locate the catfish on whichever body of water you are fishing. It’s still 100 % doable to catch monster flathead catfish during the day. Especially between the hours of 10 am and 2 pm.

The locating the flathead catfish part can be a bit tricky but it doesn’t need to be. You have several options in doing this effectively. The first thing to understand is that they don’t just like cover. They like HEAVY cover. They will be deep in the logs and snags and sitting in water depths of two-20 feet during the day.

The beautiful part of it, however, is that these areas beneath the water surface are the flathead’s safe haven. It protects them from rolling currents and other element exposures. It’s where they feel comfortable and they don’t spook to easily from these spots.

So why is this beautiful?

Once you find these spots your good to go. You just need to start effectively hitting your mark with an irresistible bait and placement and you can catch flathead catfish all year around, any season, rain or shine or even during the next thunderstorm.

How do You Locate Flathead Catfish?

You can start with some fish finding technology and sonar/depth finding technology. This isn’t only going to allow you find structure and detailed information but will allow you too see water depths and most of the information needed to effectively find where the catfish are “laying around”.

Okay, so back to the idea that you may not want to use any of the new and improved electronics. We already know they are going to be in the high dense snag areas with heavy brush, so you can start just by actively seeking out areas with tree overhangs or that appear to be littered with high cover.

They even make castable versions of this technology in case some you are bank fishing on lakes or rivers for catfish and need another avenue to get your hands on the valuable information and find the slimy monsters in their favorite hiding spots.

It will almost always be areas with visible tree lines and areas where the potential for snags and underwater structure are obvious and possible.

Another tip you can use for locating these areas, is to look for bends and outside bends along the river. It’s usually just before a sharp turn followed by a straight stretch.

Best Flathead Fishing Time by Season and Weather

Most of you already know I believe that you can catch flatheads or any catfish all year round. That doesn’t necessarily mean I haven’t had better luck in some months compared to other times of the year.

Best Flathead Fishing Time by Season and Weather?

Flatheads can really launch into heavy attack mode for well-chosen baits and live baits in May and keep up the enthusiasm all the way until September. Again, don’t get this confused, you can still effectively flathead catfish even in the winter. It’s never to cold to get catfishing biting. Always remember that.

Location. Location. Location.

What do Flathead Catfish Eat?

Flathead catfish likes to eat night crawlers, stink bait, chicken livers, cheese bait, blood bait and much more. It does depend heavily on the size of flathead you are targeting. Anything under 15 pounds might bite just about anything.

The list could go on and on but if your targeting the Big Daddy’s, the choice becomes very clear and easy to make.

Live Bait only.

If you are trying to land a trophy flathead, it’s imperative you stick to these live baits and make them work and or learn to use them effectively.

You can get a better insight on using live bait properly by seeing my other post about using bluegill and shad for bait.

Live bait is simply what big flathead catfish like to eat.

Plain and simple.

Will Flatheads be Active and Bite in the Rain and Storms?

Will Flatheads Be Active and Bite in The Rain and Storms? Yes and No. The biggest emphasis I’d like all new catfish anglers to allow to seep in is that catfish are creatures of habit just like you and me.

Not much changes the behavior. Not temperature and not rain unless it’s a straight downpour at the exact right moment. Try and just remember these facts and then learn to apply them to everything flathead catfish related.

Fishing for Flathead Catfish During The Day

During the day, they are in dense cover, in deep holes seeking protection and comfort and avoiding the light/elements.

Fishing for Flathead Catfish at Night

At night, they will exit the covered area and begin hunting for the next meal. This will continue till morning light. Also keep in mind that catfish have very keen senses. A lot of anglers including myself will tell you that it seems catfish strike extra hard and aggressive right when that sun begins showing it’s face.

Many other forums, anglers and communities claim this is due to the catfish realizing that it’s “go time” so it’s time for them to fill up the gas tank and head back to cover. That’s it. Nice and easy to understand and pretty much summarizes the entire catfish feeding schedule into a nice easy to understand manner.

So, we know the patterns of catfish and we know which baits could work to reel them in but what’s going to be the ultimate bait selection for catching flathead catfish?

I’ll try and keep this, short and concise and to the point and easy to digest.

Best Flathead Catfish Baits

For Flathead Catfish Under 15 Pounds

  • Stink Bait
  • Chicken Livers
  • Night Crawlers
  • Crawfish
  • Shrimp

For Flathead Catfish over 15 pounds

  • Shad
  • Herring
  • Cut Bluegill
  • Suckers
  • Chubs
  • Sunfish

These will always get the job done for you depending on size and leave you catching plenty of flatheads this upcoming fishing year.

Other Needed Gear For Flathead Catfishing

Proper Gear is always something you need to check off your to do list. Especially with flathead catfishing. These monsters are going to give you a hell of fight and put your current fishing gear to the test. I’d always recommend going into these battles prepared and ready to fight.

Not being prepared is going to either make you look silly or make you go home empty handed. Plain and simple.

I’d recommended starting with at least a 7-9-foot rod with medium action. The actual rod composite is your choice, but a nice e-glass rod gets the job done. Your going to need the flexibility and freedom the longer rods will allow for more effective hook setting and maneuvering ability when your fighting the catfish or working the river currents.

These are bare minimums when it comes to being prepared to handle a nice size flathead  Reels and other gear such as hook size are also important, but I’ll save some of those recommendations for you to view in my recommended fishing gear area, so we don’t bore the anglers that already have the gear ready to go.

Do we feel we know the best time to fish for Flathead Catfish?

It’s not all that difficult to locate flathead catfish and understand the behaviors after looking into it a bit and just getting out there and getting your hands dirty learning the sport. Once you understand the fundamentals it’s easy to decide when you will have the best luck flathead catfishing and when it works for your own personal time schedule.

Reading the water structure, using effective baits and gear and becoming a master flathead stalker can be quite the thrill and I hope this post helps at least one angler out there succeed at catching more flatheads this year.

As always, thanks for stopping by. If you haven’t done so already, be sure to sign up for my email newsletter. You will get the latest post and all the most recent reviews of top fishing gear on a weekly basis at no cost.

Thanks again, I appreciate you. Until Next Time.

Bob Hoffmann

The author of this post is Bob Hoffmann. Bob has spend most of his childhood fishing with his father and now share all his knowledge with other anglers. Feel free to leave a comment below.

Recent Content