Flathead Catfish

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Flathead Catfish

Species Information

Scientific Name:Pylodictis olivaris
Common Names:flathead, yellow cat, mud cat, Johnnie cat, goujon, appaluchion, opelousas, pied cat, Mississippi cat
Environment:Lake, River
Ideal Temp:65-75°F (18-24°C)

About Flathead Catfish

The flathead catfish (Pylodictis olivaris), also called by several common names including mudcat or shovelhead cat, is a large species of North American freshwater catfish in the family Ictaluridae. It is the only species of the genus Pylodictis. Ranging from the lower Great Lakes region to northern Mexico, it has been widely introduced and is an invasive species in some areas.

The flathead catfish grows to a length of 155 cm (61 in) and may weigh up to 56 kg (123 lb), making it the second-largest North American catfish (after the blue catfish, Ictalurus furcatus). The average length is about 25-46 in (64-117 cm). Its maximum recorded lifespan is 24 years. Males are mature from 16 cm (6.3 in) and 4 years of age, while females mature from 18 cm (7.1 in) and 5 years of age, but may mature as late as 10 years.[citation needed] The world angling record flathead catfish was caught May 14, 1998, from Elk City Reservoir, Kansas, and weighed 123 lb 9 oz (56.0 kg). However, a record from 1982, caught by "other methods", shows that the flathead catfish would be North Americas longest species of catfish, after a specimen pulled from the Arkansas River measured 175 cm (69 in.) and weighed 63.45 kg (139 lbs and 14oz.).

The native range of the flathead catfish includes a broad area west of the Appalachian Mountains encompassing large rivers of the Mississippi, Missouri, and Ohio basins. The range extends as far north as Canada, as far west as Texas, and south to the Gulf of Mexico including northeastern Mexico. 

The flathead catfish prefers live prey. It is a voracious carnivore and feeds primarily on fishes, insects, annelid worms, and crustaceans. It also feeds on other small catfish and almost anything that moves and makes vibration. They are known to eat crayfish, American gizzard shad (Dorosoma cepedianum), insects and larvae, channel catfish (Ictalurus punctatus), drum (Aplodinotus grunniens), other flatheads, green sunfish (Lepomis cyanellus), and carp. Insect larvae are the major prey type until an individual reaches approximately 100 mm (3.9 in) in total length, at which point the diet expands to include crayfish and small fishes. Individuals above 250 mm (9.8 in) in length feed almost exclusively on other fishes.

Sport fishing for flathead catfish using either rod and reel, limb lines, or bare hands (noodling) can be an exciting pastime. Anglers target this species in a variety of waterways, including small rivers (barely large enough for a canoe), large rivers (such as the Missouri, Mississippi, Ohio, Tennessee and Colorado Rivers), and reservoirs. A common element of flathead catfish location is submerged wood cover such as logs and rootwads which often collect at bends in rivers. A good flathead spot usually also includes relatively deep water compared to the rest of a particular section of river, a moderate amount of current, and access to plentiful baitfish such as river herring, shad, carp, drum, panfish, or suckers. Anglers targeting large flathead catfish usually use stout tackle such as medium-heavy or heavy action rods from 6–10 ft (1.8–3.0 m) in length with large line-capacity reels and line ranging from 20–80 pounds-force (89–356 N) test breaking strength. Generally large live baits are preferred such as river herring, shad, sunfish (such as bluegill), suckers, carp, goldfish, drum, and bullheads ranging from 5–12 in (13–30 cm) in length.

Flathead Catfish Fishing

World Record:55.79 kg (123 lb 0 oz) Elk City Reservoir, Independence, Kansas, USA 19-May-1998
# Fish Caught:19790 documented in database.
Earliest Record:1/1/1830 12:00:00 AM and located at 30.01316, -101.51479.
Latest Record:9/29/2023 11:34:14 AM and located at 33.62573, -83.67955.
Common Techniques:Bottom Fishing
Popular Lure Types:Bottom Rig
Fishing Spots:605 Flathead Catfish fishing spots.


Latest Flathead Catfish Fishing Reports and Spots

Dry Fly Fishing - 4/25/2024 3:42:45 PM

The afternoon dry fly fishing has been lights out! Skwalas March brown mayflies BWOs & nemoura stones are pouring off and fish are up. Mothers (View)

Recfishwest's State-wide Fishing Report 19 April 2024 🎣 - 4/19/2024 2:35:23 AM

96 Recfishwest Newsletter View this email in your browser Recfishwest Fishing Report 19/04/24 Dunsborough was the place to be this week if you (View)

Recfishwest's State-wide Fishing Report 12 April 2024 🎣 - 4/12/2024 3:02:31 AM

96 Recfishwest Newsletter View this email in your browser Recfishwest Fishing Report 12/04/24 Standard - just your casual weekend in WA surfing (View)

Recfishwest's State-wide Fishing Report 5 April 2024 🎣 - 4/5/2024 4:17:17 AM

96 Recfishwest Newsletter View this email in your browser Recfishwest Fishing Report 05/04/24 The definition of a perfect spot to wet a line fo (View)

Recfishwest's State-wide Fishing Report 28 March 2024 🎣 - 3/27/2024 11:15:30 PM

96 Recfishwest Newsletter View this email in your browser Recfishwest Fishing Report 28/03/24 There's reportedly been a lot of sightings of wah (View)

28 March 2024 - 3/28/2024 12:19:35 AM

Hervey Bay Grassy sweetlip nannygai snapper coral trout and cod on the inshore reefs spanish mackerel on the artificial reefs and in the northe (View)

21 March 2024 - 3/21/2024 12:10:19 AM

Hervey Bay Grassy sweetlip nannygai coral trout and cod on the inshore reefs mack tuna in Platypus Bay and the inshore shipping channels barram (View)

Recfishwest's State-wide Fishing Report 22 March 2024 🎣 - 3/21/2024 7:30:00 PM

96 Recfishwest Newsletter View this email in your browser Recfishwest Fishing Report 22/03/24 Dampier's pristine waters on full display. This g (View)

Recfishwest's State-wide Fishing Report 15 March 2024 🎣 - 3/15/2024 3:34:44 AM

96 Recfishwest Newsletter View this email in your browser Recfishwest Fishing Report 15/03/24 Photographic proof of how stunning Hopetoun on th (View)

Spring Fishing - 3/12/2024 10:35:35 AM

There's not much snow in the hills and the river is low. Warm weather on the horizon too. Spring fishing is here. The Flathead River fished wel (View)