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Flathead catfish in small lake
#530416 02/09/21 07:28 PM
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Hello all - this is my first time posting so hopefully I'll do this correctly. I live on a small lake in SC (about 20-22 acres, gets down to around 25-30 feet in depth) - it has plenty of threadfin shad, bass, bream and it has some larger crappie (never caught any smaller ones). It also has a few catfish in it and recently I figured out that these were flathead catfish. They are not too big (the biggest I have caught was maybe 4 lbs and the smallest was maybe 2 lbs). I have seen them bed in the lake before and last year I even got a video of 2 parents protecting what had to have been hundreds their young as they fed. So I had no concerns until recently I saw a few articles warning against having flatheads in small lakes or ponds so I was looking for some feedback - should I remove them when I catch them or are they perfectly fine in a lake of this size?
Thanks in advance for any feedback or advice.

Re: Flathead catfish in small lake
LTL #530420 02/09/21 09:02 PM
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I'll also try posting one of the catfish pics, just to confirm that these are flatheads...

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Re: Flathead catfish in small lake
LTL #530423 02/09/21 10:45 PM
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Flatheads have HUGE mouths, and they can eat some pretty good sized bass, along with any sized panfish you can grow.

It all depends on your goals for the small lake. Having them reproduce in there means that you cannot easily control their numbers.


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Re: Flathead catfish in small lake
LTL #530425 02/09/21 10:49 PM
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Here's the picture. Might it be a bullhead?:

[Linked Image from forums.pondboss.com]


Excerpt from Robert Crais' "The Monkey's Raincoat:"
"She took another microscopic bite of her sandwich, then pushed it away. Maybe she absorbed nutrients from her surroundings."

Re: Flathead catfish in small lake
Sunil #530426 02/09/21 11:10 PM
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I have caught maybe 3-4 about that size (~18" long if you notice the boards in the background) and one that was about 2 foot long - that seems pretty big for a bullhead doesn't it? here is one other pic that could help:

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Re: Flathead catfish in small lake
LTL #530427 02/09/21 11:12 PM
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Does not look like a flat head cat. Flatheads nest in holes, so you would not be able to see them on a nest. There are different kinds of bullheads. Could be one of those. Tail not forked so not a channel cat. Hope an expert will know what it is.
Whatever it is I would have fun catching and eating them.
Flatheads mouth is the widest part of their body.

Last edited by nehunter; 02/09/21 11:26 PM.

61 acre water shed lake. bass, channel cat, black crappie, wiper, walleye, redear sunfish and bluegill. To many bullhead and common carp
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Re: Flathead catfish in small lake
LTL #530428 02/09/21 11:45 PM
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Looked up brown bullhead, this is what I think it is. Brown bullheads can grow to 7 pounds. Would like these in my lake,instead of the yellow bullheads I have.

Last edited by nehunter; 02/09/21 11:49 PM.

61 acre water shed lake. bass, channel cat, black crappie, wiper, walleye, redear sunfish and bluegill. To many bullhead and common carp
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Re: Flathead catfish in small lake
LTL #530433 02/10/21 08:11 AM
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Here's the second picture:

[Linked Image from forums.pondboss.com]


Excerpt from Robert Crais' "The Monkey's Raincoat:"
"She took another microscopic bite of her sandwich, then pushed it away. Maybe she absorbed nutrients from her surroundings."

Re: Flathead catfish in small lake
LTL #530434 02/10/21 08:12 AM
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I agree that it seems big for a bullhead, but perhaps it's the brown bullie.


Excerpt from Robert Crais' "The Monkey's Raincoat:"
"She took another microscopic bite of her sandwich, then pushed it away. Maybe she absorbed nutrients from her surroundings."

Re: Flathead catfish in small lake
LTL #530436 02/10/21 10:56 AM
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That is definitely not a flathead catfish. It is one of the bullheads. Flathead catfish have a more slender body with a less bulky head viewed from the side. The head of a flathead is depressed or flattened between the eyes. Flathead mouth is short but wide with a diagnostic protruding lower jaw. The jaw projects forward beyond the upper jaw. Usually flatheads have a distinctive white or light colored patch on the dorsal or upper back top corner of the tail. A flathead has only 16 to 17 anal fin rays compared to all bullheads that have 21-28 anal fin rays. All the barbels on a flathead are usually fairly light brown, to cream colored and very rarely if ever all black and dark as shown in the 1st picture. The brown bullhead usually has dark chin barbels as noted in the 1st picture. The three common bullheads usually have some all black or very dark barbels. I think your fish is probably a big old brown bullhead that has been known to grow to 20" long and 7 lbs as noted by 'nehunter' above.

Last edited by Bill Cody; 02/10/21 11:32 AM.

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Re: Flathead catfish in small lake
Bill Cody #530443 02/10/21 01:22 PM
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Folks - thank you all for your feedback and Bill - that is a good point about the jaw. I was mostly determining they were flatheads based on the color and my assumption that all Bullheads were small so it had to be one of the big 3. Looks like I no longer need to worry about Flats eating all of our fish and now I need to shift my focus to seeing if any of these Bullheads will break a state record =) I may still reach out to the forum with questions as I'm removing old muck and leaves from my shoreline, working on making an area for bream beds, and I'm creating some fish habitats using various ideas (milkcrate structures for fry, pallet towers, rock piles, floating wetlands, etc) so that I can do my part to keep this body of water healthy.
Thanks,
LTL

Re: Flathead catfish in small lake
LTL #530451 02/10/21 07:12 PM
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The pond must have a good strong LMbass population to keep the small bullheads eaten and in lower numbers so remaining ones have ample foods to grow large.

Last edited by Bill Cody; 02/10/21 07:13 PM.

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Re: Flathead catfish in small lake
LTL #530459 02/10/21 10:08 PM
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We'd love to hear more details on your lake, LTL.

20+ acres is dream-state for many of us here.

I've got to think you've got some large catfish in there especially if the lake has been there for a some time.


Excerpt from Robert Crais' "The Monkey's Raincoat:"
"She took another microscopic bite of her sandwich, then pushed it away. Maybe she absorbed nutrients from her surroundings."

Re: Flathead catfish in small lake
LTL #530473 02/11/21 08:12 AM
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Yes there is a very strong LMB population. I know there are at least some larger ones (5-7lb range) - I have caught one about 6lbs and I have seen some pics of a few others and there are large schools of smaller ones (1-2lb range and growing fast) that roam the open water. Threadfin shad were added about 2 years ago and now it is quite a sight to see the schools of bass attack them - the water looks like it is boiling and no matter what lure you cast in the water when this is happening, each treble hook will have a bass on it. The lake is a private community lake (one of 2, both are about the same size - we have a house on the upper one). They are fed by a couple of creeks, maybe some springs in it also (I have never seen it drop below "full" and the overflow into the second lake seems stronger than the volume coming in from the creeks) - the second lake dumps into a river behind it. I would guess that they were built 50-70 years ago and my understanding is that the dams were repaired about 20-25 years ago (I assume that they were drained out at this time). They do have some silting and muck issues (the lakes are surrounded by trees and dirt/clay comes in from the creeks during strong storms), but generally speaking they seem to be in pretty good shape and are pretty clean/healthy. I have heard that at one point 5-10 years ago that they were top notch crappie fisheries, but the residents thought that most of the crappie were gone until I started catching some - what crappie that are there now are all larger. I have caught some good sized bream also. I have done a good bit of fishing for catfish and all I have caught have been the ones I described above so I'm guessing there are not many catfish in it. Most of the residents that live on the lake are older and do not fish or come out to the water. I love the water and love to fish (all catch and release) and just want to keep the lake in good shape and see if I can help out the bream population.
There is very little structure in the pond (which is one reason why I want to add some) and very few wetland type plants. I want to add some plants on my shoreline (to help keep leaves out) so any recommendations on ones that will not cause issues would be great. My shore is very shady due to the trees and the fact that it is north facing. I think that some plants would also help out the smaller fish and give them a chance to get larger before they are eaten.


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