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
|20 in||3.35 lb|
|21 in||4.12 lb|
|22 in||4.68 lb|
|23 in||5.57 lb|
|24 in||6.24 lb|
|25 in||7.14 lb|
|26 in||8.26 lb|
|27 in||9.21 lb|
|28 in||10.37 lb|
|29 in||11.49 lb|
|30 in||12.86 lb|
|31 in||14.58 lb|
|32 in||15.84 lb|
|33 in||17.62 lb|
|34 in||19.41 lb|
|35 in||21.26 lb|
|36 in||23.29 lb|
|37 in||25.34 lb|
|38 in||27.68 lb|
|39 in||30.12 lb|
|40 in||32.66 lb|
|41 in||35.37 lb|
|42 in||38.24 lb|
|43 in||41.26 lb|
|44 in||44.42 lb|
|45 in||47.79 lb|
|46 in||51.21 lb|
|47 in||54.96 lb|
|48 in||58.87 lb|
|49 in||62.84 lb|
|50 in||67.19 lb|
|51 in||71.56 lb|
|52 in||76.11 lb|
|53 in||80.94 lb|
|54 in||86.01 lb|
|55 in||91.32 lb|
|56 in||96.78 lb|
|57 in||102.42 lb|
|58 in||108.37 lb|
|59 in||114.58 lb|
|60 in||120.93 lb|
View Flathead Catfish State & World Records
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
|1 Year Old||6 inches|
|2 Years Old||8.5 inches|
|3 Years Old||11 inches|
|4 Years Old||13.5 inches|
|5 Years Old||16 inches|
|6 Years Old||18.5 inches|
|7 Years Old||21 inches|
|8 Years Old||23.5 inches|
|9 Years Old||26 inches|
|10 Years Old||28.5 inches|
|11 Years Old||31 inches|
|12 Years Old||33.5 inches|
|13 Years Old||36 inches|
|14 Years Old||38.5 inches|
|15 Years Old||41 inches|
|16 Years Old||43.5 inches|
|17 Years Old||46 inches|
|18 Years Old||48.5 inches|
|19 Years Old||51 inches|
|20 Years Old||53.5 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.
Hooked In Fishing is supported by its audience. As an Amazon Associate, we may earn an affiliate commission when you purchase through links on our site. Learn more
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.