Catfish Basics #008 – Flatheads on Artificial Lures
The flathead catfish is one amazing predator and no doubt one of the coolest and strongest fish in fresh water. They are incredibly efficient hunters. One of many common misconceptions is that they feed mainly on or towards the bottom. “This is way off base,” says Kansas angler Keith Severns who often chases the whiskered beasts in a float tube that allows him to get in places other anglers can’t.
“These camouflaged mini-subs hunt the entire water column, even the top. This is just one of many reasons why I like to use artificial lures to intercept and fool these whiskered beasts when they are doing their daily or nightly feeding forays.”
Bait shop rumors occasional include a flatty being caught on an artificial bait. It happens most often when anglers are targeting a different species. Most people refer to the catch as an “accident”, but Keith will tell you that those catches are not accidents. “Those catches are incidents and they can happen all the time for you, just as they have for me.”
“Benefits of using artificial baits include being able to use a wide variety of different lure categories and a wide variety of different methods and presentations,” instructs Severns. “The methods I uses allow you to cover large sections of a waterway and cover all the different zones in the water column. The idea is to unlock the ever-changing daily puzzle of figuring out what areas and what depths the fish are using and figuring out what kind of mood they are in.”
“If they are in a neutral or negative mood (not feeding well), things can be tough, but you can still score by using more finesse techniques,” continued Severns. “I would try something different like drop shotting or vertical jigging with Gulp Eels or Gulp Jerk Shads.”
“Another tactic where artificials shine when fish are inactive is to coax them into feeding using different speeds,” advised Severns. “High speed/low speed or a pause followed by a fast sweep or banging a lure into and deflecting off of cover may trigger a strike. All of these things mimic an escape maneuver by prey which can often trigger instinctive strikes from predators.”
Keith also uses wounded or dying prey techniques. They can be hard for fish to resist because it is an easy opportunity to feed. “These techniques include ‘killing’ (stopping) a swimming lure such as a swimbait and just letting it die and fall to the bottom,” suggested Severns. “Another technique is to pitch around the edges of cover and let your offering flutter slowly towards the bottom on semi-slack line.”
Try some of Severns artificial bait techniques to Improve your flathead catching. What have you got to lose?