In Pennsylvania, Susquehanna
River anglers are catching behemoth 15- to 40-pound flathead
catfish, both from the bank and from boats. Big-game action with massive
flatheads is easy, inexpensive and exhilarating!
Captain Dave Shindler at Jst
Fishing Guide Service (www.jstfishin.com)
targets big flatheads in the Susquehanna at the York Haven/Falmouth area,
downriver to Marietta,
Pequea, Holtwood, and Conowingo. These formidable adversaries bite best from two
hours before sunset to two hours after dark.
During the daytime, Shindler recommends fishing
for them in holes, on edges, and on other bottom contours in 30- to 80-foot
depths where there is current. These areas can be especially productive if they
contain submerged trees.
At night, flatheads will move into shallow water, and some anglers have
reported hooking large flatheads in as little as two feet of water up tight
against the bank.
Use Heavy Tackle
Shindler's tackle consists of heavy 6-1/2-foot to
7-foot rods, and baitcasting reels spooled with
65-pound or 80-pound braided line.
To rig up, the end of the line is slipped through a 1/2-ounce to 3-ounce egg
sinker, or a fish-finder rig with a sinker snapped on. Then the line is
threaded through a plastic bead and tied to a 200-pound barrel swivel. A 12- to
24-inch piece of 40- to 60-pound mono leader is tied to the other end of the
barrel swivel. A Gamakatsu octopus hook or an Eagle
Claw Kahle hook in sizes 4/0 to 8/0 is attached to
the end of the leader. Use Palomar knots for all connections.
It only takes one quick look at a flathead's wide, gaping mouth to realize
they're capable of devouring big baits. Their favorites include sunfish,
suckers and chubs, and flatheads want them alive and kicking!
We usually assign one angler from our group with the responsibility of
catching bait before meeting us at the boat ramp. He can either
take night crawlers, a small hook and a bobber and visit a pond or other
stream where catching sunfish is a certainty. Or he can wade with a seine in a
small stream to collect chubs.
After several dozen baits are deposited in a bucket, the bait catcher drives
straight to the boat ramp and transfers them to the boat's livewell.
Use Live Bait
Once at your fishing spot, drop anchor so the boat
comes to rest slightly upcurrent of the bottom
contour to be fished. Hook a sunfish or chub through the back just behind the
dorsal fin. In stronger current, hook baits through the lips so they won't
spin. Cast the rig behind the boat, and after it sinks to the bottom reel in
any slack, disengage the spool, turn on the reel's clicker, and put the rod in
a rod holder.
Fish at least two rods (where legal), one in each rod holder in the corners
of the transom. Fish additional rods if possible without
A thumping rod tip and/or a screeching clicker indicate a flathead has just
made a meal of a hooked sunfish or chub. Remove the rod from the rod holder,
engage the spool, set the hook, and prepare for battle! Super-sized flatheads
do not come to the boat quickly or quietly. They are strong, ferocious
fighters, which combined with their great size, are making them a heavyweight
favorite among Susquehanna River anglers.
For a fine assortment of fishing gear, click here.