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Flatheads
#367292 02/24/14 10:31 PM
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I started clearing the timber today for my planned 13 acre pond. I have been an avid flathead, opelousas, yellow cat, fisherman for many years on the rivers and lakes here in Texas. My dream would be to catch op on my own lake. Please weigh in with any reasons why a 13 acre lake should not be stocked with fatheads.


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Re: Flatheads
Lynyrd #367295 02/24/14 10:39 PM
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Stock all the fatheads ya want but I bet ya put one flathead in and them fatheads disappear. Just my WAG.


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Re: Flatheads
Lynyrd #367319 02/25/14 09:36 AM
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Lynyrd, welcome to the forum!

If that's what you want, no reason why you can't stock them. Just plan ahead for the forage fish, because they can eat some large sized fish! Smaller fish to get them started, but I think Gizzard Shad would be good forage for you once the Flatheads got some size to them.


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Re: Flatheads
esshup #367323 02/25/14 10:41 AM
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The rivers here with whopper cats flatheads, channels, and blues, all have one thing in common...Shad.


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Re: Flatheads
Lynyrd #367351 02/25/14 07:27 PM
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If big catfish are thriving by eating shad this means that the catfish are moving up into the water column that shad inhabit to prey on the open water dwelling shad. If this is true then it provides insight into the feeding habits of larger catfish.


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Re: Flatheads
Bill Cody #367355 02/25/14 08:09 PM
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Bill, we have some serious catfish boys around here. They fish mostly the Potomac. It is normal for them to catch 50 lb blue cats. They have caught some over 70-80 lbs.

They mostly fish at night. You would be surprised how shallow really big blues can be found at night.


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Re: Flatheads
Lynyrd #367360 02/25/14 08:50 PM
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The poster is looking to grow large flatheads. Blue catfish and flathead catfish are very different in many ways. Blue catfish will readily prey on shad in open water. Some fisherman actually target them via trolling. The original poster made no mention of being interested in growing large blue catfish.

Flatheads are ambush predators holding tight to cover and the bottom. Forage species that would be good for flatheads in my opinion would be sunfish species, bullheads, suckers and as the flatheads get larger, common carp. Flatheads rarely spawn in smaller lakes, thus you could closely control their numbers as it would be unlikely they would reproduce in a 13 acre lake. Gizzard shad do feed on the bottom and no doubt would be effective prey for flatheads, however I think the other mentioned species may be more effective.

Gullet studies on flatheads indicate gizzard shad do not make up a large percentage of their diets where they are found. The record flathead for VA came from the Occoquan Reservoir. I reservoir I have electroshocked numerous times while volunteering with the VDGIF. During the shockings, flatheads were shocked up. Gullets were checked, and although blueback herring and gizzard shad are very common in the lake, the flatheads were found to be mostly consuming sunfish, bullheads and carp.


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Re: Flatheads
Bill Cody #367362 02/25/14 09:46 PM
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Originally Posted By: Bill Cody
If big catfish are thriving by eating shad this means that the catfish are moving up into the water column that shad inhabit to prey on the open water dwelling shad. If this is true then it provides insight into the feeding habits of larger catfish.


Bill when I was a biologist aid helping with surveys in central Indiana reservoirs it wasn't uncommon to gill net suspended channel cats that were feeding on gizzard shad. There pec fins sure did a number on our hands as we untangled them from the nets!

Last edited by Cecil Baird1; 02/26/14 05:06 PM.

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Re: Flatheads
Lynyrd #367390 02/26/14 09:59 AM
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Big flatheads are commonly caught at night in very shallow water.

And of course CCs will hit the surface.

Lynyrd, If you put some big flatheads in your pond, they will eat every fish that fits in their mouth. So like Esshup says, you better have the pond full of fish for them to eat.



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Re: Flatheads
Lynyrd #367391 02/26/14 10:22 AM
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Here in Kansas alot of our small watershed lakes have flatheads. They all have crappie. I think Crappie would be a awesome forage fish for flatheads they reproduce like crazy! Just a idea

Re: Flatheads
KSBASS #367392 02/26/14 10:27 AM
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Do Gizzard Shad rest on the bottom of the pond/lake at night to "sleep"?


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Re: Flatheads
esshup #367404 02/26/14 11:55 AM
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Originally Posted By: esshup
Do Gizzard Shad rest on the bottom of the pond/lake at night to "sleep"?


Interesting thought... I know sunfish species often do this. I know I see giant schools of gizzard shad under the lights at night. So they are very attracted to lights. Now in conditions where there are no artificial lights at night, I am not sure if they suddenly cease activity and hold tight to the bottom like sunfish often do. If so, they'd become easy flathead prey. My experience from tossing cast nets at night in dark areas, is the shad are still schooling and moving though. The areas I cast net at night, the net never gets near the bottom but I often catch large numbers of shad.


Men and fish are alike. They both get into trouble when they open their mouths.
Re: Flatheads
CJBS2003 #367416 02/26/14 12:29 PM
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Which leads to another question I have thought about.

I have read on here that large CC can become a problem by cleaning out a lot of forage fish from a pond.

It would seem a big CC would be relatively slow compared to a BG and be hard for it to catch a BG. So is this how the CC eat the big BG? As they rest or sleep at night on the bottom or near, the CC which can feed nocturnally clean up on the sunfish while they sleep? Otherwise, how could they catch that many?


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Re: Flatheads
MSC #367428 02/26/14 01:57 PM
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Originally Posted By: MSC
Big flatheads are commonly caught at night in very shallow water.

And of course CCs will hit the surface.

Lynyrd, If you put some big flatheads in your pond, they will eat every fish that fits in their mouth. So like Esshup says, you better have the pond full of fish for them to eat.



There is no doubt that flatheads will eat anything they can fit in their mouth. I once cleaned a 27 lb flathead that had the tail of a 7 lb blue cat sticking out of its mouth. Without the blue he only weighed 20! I don't know if he would have ever digested what he swallowed or not.

I am not planning on stocking bass, so the flatheads competing with them won't be a problem. I do want channel cats and blues. I also like the idea of crappie, both as supper and as forage fish for the flatheads. Green sunfish (what we locally call slicks, or slick jacks) are native to this area and pretty prolific. I intend to cultivate a healthy population of them.

So, what I am HOPING for is a 13 acre lake that will produce flatheads, channel cats, blue cats, and crappie. The lake will be about 150 yds wide at the dam and about 600 yds long. Roughly half will average 12' deep, with the deepest part near the dam bottoming out at 25 feet. There will be about 3 acres of water in the shallow end that will be no more than 4 feet deep. A live creek will feed the lake about 10 months out of the year, so water levels won't vary much.

Last edited by Lynyrd; 02/26/14 01:59 PM.

I live back in the woods you see,
The woman and the kids and the critters and me.
Re: Flatheads
KSBASS #367429 02/26/14 02:01 PM
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Originally Posted By: KSBASS

Here in Kansas alot of our small watershed lakes have flatheads. They all have crappie. I think Crappie would be a awesome forage fish for flatheads they reproduce like crazy! Just a idea


When you say "small watershed lakes" just how small are your talking about? I haven't caught flatheads ever in a small private lake. Just the big public lakes or rivers.


I live back in the woods you see,
The woman and the kids and the critters and me.
Re: Flatheads
Lynyrd #367430 02/26/14 02:27 PM
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Since the catfishes are primarily adapted for nocturnal and turbid water feeding, they catch most of their food items while patrolling at night. During the night many daylight active fish are "resting", "sleeping", or relatively motionless which makes them easy prey for a night adapted predator - similar to the feeding behavior of owls vs hawks. Nature is "full" of animals with unique behavior patterns. It is part of the 'niche' biology concept.


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Re: Flatheads
Lynyrd #367433 02/26/14 02:35 PM
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Lynyrd, if you are going to put in all 3 catfish species from local areas, and also source wild forage fish, you might want to look into getting a gill net for catching shad. A 50ft gill net is relatively cheap and can get you lots of shad.


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Re: Flatheads
Lynyrd #367468 02/26/14 08:55 PM
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I think one would surprised at just how fast and agile a CC or blue catfish is... With that being said, they excel in feeding on shad when they are struggling. Shad have huge die offs throughout the year for different reasons and that is where the catfish really fill their stomachs.


Men and fish are alike. They both get into trouble when they open their mouths.
Re: Flatheads
Lynyrd #367470 02/26/14 09:08 PM
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I completely agree with CJ. CC & Blues in rivers they tend to stick close to slack water, but it`s hard to stop a cat that is in pursuit of something that has caught it`s interest. I have 5-12lb CC chase down scented spinner baits @ my uncles.


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Re: Flatheads
CJBS2003 #367504 02/27/14 01:16 PM
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Originally Posted By: CJBS2003
I think one would surprised at just how fast and agile a CC or blue catfish is... With that being said, they excel in feeding on shad when they are struggling. Shad have huge die offs throughout the year for different reasons and that is where the catfish really fill their stomachs.


Absolutely CJ, The Potomac has those huge shad die offs and maybe that's why the blues are getting so huge.

I've caught lots of CCs and smaller blue cats on crankbaits and spinnerbaits while fishing for bass. These lures have no scent at all, just vibration and the water in the rivers has poor visibility of 1 or 2 feet lots of times. These cats can still be quick enough to hit these lures.


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Re: Flatheads
Lynyrd #367514 02/27/14 02:58 PM
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Originally Posted By: Lynyrd
Originally Posted By: KSBASS

Here in Kansas alot of our small watershed lakes have flatheads. They all have crappie. I think Crappie would be a awesome forage fish for flatheads they reproduce like crazy! Just a idea


When you say "small watershed lakes" just how small are your talking about? I haven't caught flatheads ever in a small private lake. Just the big public lakes or rivers.


There are hundreds of small lakes that the goverment built anywhere from 5 to 15 acres some up 70 acres. People catch them from rivers and throw them in and they take off and get huge because they all have overpopulated crappie in them around 8" and the flatheads eat them like shad but crappie are slower.


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