Flathead Catfish tips for landing a lunker of your own in Arizona

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  • Did you know that Flathead Catfish are the second largest of the catfishes and are native to the lower Great Lakes and Mississippi River Basin? They were introduced into Arizona in 1940’s. The best places to fish are Alamo Reservoir, Bill Williams River, Martinez Lake Marine, Fishers Landing, Imperial Oasis, Laguna Dam, Yuma Canals, Salinity Canal, Gila River and Mittry Lake.

    In the lakes, they prefer to utilize river channels. These fish can crow to 140 lb and can put up a very righteous fight once hooked which can provide a real sporting challenge for anglers.

    There are two separate records that list the largest flathead caught, the state inland waters and the Colorado River. The record for the largest inland water flathead caught in AZ was at San Carlos 71lb. 10.24 oz., by Adrian Manzanedo, Florence 01/05/2003 and colorado rive waters weighing at 74 lbs. 0.0 oz. 51.5 in., Laguna Dam, Walter Wilson, Bard, CA 5/11/1998.

    Giant cats are where it’s at so if catching a giant flathead catfish is your ticket to happiness, then here are a few tips on landing your trophy flathead. Keep in mind it is going to be much more difficult than finding a channel or blue cat of interest, simply because of their lifestyle.

    The prime fishing time for catching flathead catfish is during the warm months. Their preferred water temps are 75 – 84 degrees. Flatheads prefer feeding at dusk, during the night or before the sun comes up. The best places to find them are in deep slower moving pools where the water is murky and/or near the base of dams. They like to surround themselves with lots of vegetation or rocky covering. Their meat is white, firm and flakey and has a good flavor however during the summer months; the meat can taste a bit muddy.

    The gear for Flatheads needs to be pretty solid. Flathead catfish can be got on a rod and reel, but if you want to catch the largest flathead use droplines, set lines or trotlines. This technique involves dropping heavy-grade tackle and hooks into the water and then securing the line to a tree or partially submerged limbs. If you want the
    challenge of catching a flathead on a rod and reel, use a heavy-action rod at least 7”, a good bait-casting reel and a minimum of 30-lb test line, a 2/0 hook for smaller bait should be sufficient and for larger bait 4/0. You should only use stainless steel hooks.

    AZGFD recommends using live sunfish, carp and waterdogs for larger flatheads and worms and chicken liver for smaller flatheads. Make sure you read the fishing regulations for special instructions about the use of live bait fish.

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