HookedinFishing » Freshwater Fish » Flathead Catfish

Flathead Catfish Species Breakdown

Scientific Name: Pylodictus olivaris

Also Known As: Yellow Cat, Mud Cat, Mississippi Cat, Shovelhead Cat, Appaloosa, Motley Cat, and Johnnie Cat

Flathead Catfish are a freshwater fish that are considered invasive in most states. These bottom-dwelling omnivores feed on insects, crayfish, clams, crabs, eels, worms, sunfish, shiners, shad, bullheads, carp, and other catfish.

How to Identify a Flathead Catfish

Flathead catfish have a long, scaleless body with a squared tail. These fish have beady eyes, a flat, wide head and a protruding lower jaw. They have a pale yellow to light brown colored body with a cream belly.

Flathead Catfish Size

Flatheat catfish can grow up to 4 feet long and weigh up to 123 lbs. However, they are more commonly found in the 20-30 lb range.

A trophy size flathead catfish is 50 pounds or larger.

Flathead Catfish Size Chart – Length to Weight Conversion

LengthWeight
20 in3.35 lb
21 in4.12 lb
22 in4.68 lb
23 in5.57 lb
24 in6.24 lb
25 in7.14 lb
26 in8.26 lb
27 in9.21 lb
28 in10.37 lb
29 in11.49 lb
30 in12.86 lb
31 in14.58 lb
32 in15.84 lb
33 in17.62 lb
34 in19.41 lb
35 in21.26 lb
36 in23.29 lb
37 in25.34 lb
38 in27.68 lb
39 in30.12 lb
40 in32.66 lb
41 in35.37 lb
42 in38.24 lb
43 in41.26 lb
44 in44.42 lb
45 in47.79 lb
46 in51.21 lb
47 in54.96 lb
48 in58.87 lb
49 in62.84 lb
50 in67.19 lb
51 in71.56 lb
52 in76.11 lb
53 in80.94 lb
54 in86.01 lb
55 in91.32 lb
56 in96.78 lb
57 in102.42 lb
58 in108.37 lb
59 in114.58 lb
60 in120.93 lb

Flathead Catfish World Record

The largest flathead catfish ever caught was 123 pounds on Elk City Reservoir, Independence, Kansas in 1998.

Where Flathead Catfish Are Found

Flathead catfish are native to the lower Great Lakes, the Mississippi River basin, west of the Appalachian Mountains, and northeastern Mexico. Today, you can find them all over North America.

These fish inhabit reservoirs, big rivers, streams, canals, and lakes. They prefer cloudy waters with slow currents.

They like secluded places and can be found near logs, debris, boulder cover and below dams.

Lifespan of a Flathead Catfish

The lifespan of a flathead catfish is typically 10 – 15 years, but can live up to 24 years. They reach maturity in 4 – 5 years.

You can tell the general age of a flathead catfish by referring to the table below.

Flathead Catfish Age Chart

AgeLength
1 Year Old6 inches
2 Years Old8.5 inches
3 Years Old11 inches
4 Years Old13.5 inches
5 Years Old16 inches
6 Years Old18.5 inches
7 Years Old21 inches
8 Years Old23.5 inches
9 Years Old26 inches
10 Years Old28.5 inches
11 Years Old31 inches
12 Years Old33.5 inches
13 Years Old36 inches
14 Years Old38.5 inches
15 Years Old41 inches
16 Years Old43.5 inches
17 Years Old46 inches
18 Years Old48.5 inches
19 Years Old51 inches
20 Years Old53.5 inches

Fishing For Flathead Catfish

Are Flathead Catfish hard to catch?

Flathead catfish aren’t very hard to catch with the right bait. Refer to the baits below and with a little patients you will be able to catch a catfish.

Best Bait for Flathead Catfish

Flathead catfish are more particular than most catfish and prefer life bait as opposed to “stink bait”. They can be caught using river herring, shad, carp, drum, panfish, or suckers.

You can use rod and reel, limb lines, trotlining, set lines and even bare hands.

What Size Hooks for Flathead Catfish?

The best hook size to catch a flathead catfish are the 3/0 & 5/0 circle hooks.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Are flathead catfish poisonous?

Flathead catfish are not poisonous. Their spines located on the dorsal and pectoral fins contain a mucus that can cause infection if it punctures the skin. Learn how to safely handle catfish.

Are flathead catfish good to eat?

Catfish are some of the most underrated fish in the country since they grow large, put up a good fight, and taste great.

Do flathead catfish eat other fish?

Yes. They are not picky and will eat what fits in their mouth. They are known to eat their own kind.

What time of day is best for flathead catfish?

From 10am – 2pm and also at night when they are hunting for food.

Are the barbs dangerous?

The barbs on catfish’s dorsal and pectoral fins can be painful if they stab you. The mucus covering the spines may cause infection, it is best to avoid the spines. Learn how to safely handle catfish.

Do flathead catfish jump?

Flathead catfish can jump out of water when hunting for prey or escaping from predators.

Do flathead catfish have predators?

Flathead catfish can be eaten by larger fish, turtles and large birds such as eagles, herons and osprey.

Learn About Other Catfish