So, the summer was far too dry in the west to chase trout like I normally do..
And to be completely honest, after living on the coast for a few years, I'm addicted to big fish.
Safe to say, the flathead catfish takes the Cake in PA. Some carp get big..there's other fish that get big..but none with shoulders like a flathead..or numbers.
I started flathead fishing over 15 years ago before they became a known "sport fish". I accidentally caught one in the river and when I realized it fought well, I started targeting them.
At the time, there wasn't much published about them. Some in-fishermen stuff started being published..."live bait" was about all I could find though.
I caught some fish..some 10 pound class.
Now fast forward...I wanted the big boys. I wasn't even interested in anything under 10 pounds. Really anything under 20.
Initially started the summer with my surf rods. They worked well..but the reels are just about shot. Not using them and left over salt has about killed them.
I've since setup 2 rods I'm happy with. My 3rd is OK but will be replaced before next year I think..
My small rod is a B&M silver cat mag with an Abu Garcia 6500 catfish special.
I setup 2 rigs I love..both Tangling with Catfish Extender series rods with Abu Garcia 7000cs pro rockets.
Right now they are all spooled with 65lb power pro.
I fish mostly from the bank. I need the rod length and the braid to cast. It's not uncommon for me to throw over a pound of bait and lead. I actually sacrifice lead weight to fish bigger bait lol. I still usually throw 5oz of lead but my live bait still pulls it around sometimes..
I fished HARD all summer. Didn't really know about the spawn thing shutting the bite down mostly..
I caught some small fish..but I lost countless fish. Switched hooks and still missed lots of fish. Still am missing lots of fish lol.
Anyways... September 10th I worked daylight and was extremely tired. I almost didn't fish but figured I'd go sit on the river bank a while. It was COLD that night.
Gathered up bait and headed to the river.
Sat there a few hours and not much going on. I don't think I had a hit.
Casted a bait out down the shoreline to my left. It ended up hitting closer to the shore than I wanted but I was entirely too tired to reel it back in. Lol. Also reeling in bait from the bank leaves a high probability for snags and I was short on bait...so I left it.
I can't remember how long it was out there but I saw it twitch twice. To me, it looked like a turtle hitting it.
I went to reel it in to avoid the turtle eating my entire bluegill and as I reeled the rod loaded up.
I was literally on the phone with my girlfriend. The drag started screaming and I realized that I hooked into something more than expected! Wasn't a turtle running like that! Phone was in my hoody pocket and basically hollered "I will call you back!".
The fish quickly burned line off the reel as it ran away from the bank.
It caught my attention because I had the drag pretty cranked and the rod is built specifically for big cats.
I kept the pressure on the fish and it decided "ok you wanna play..let's play". It took a long hard run down river...towards my other rods! Lol.
I quickly felt where it was going and put the heat to it to keep it out of my other rods.
"Fine! Back to the depths I go". It burned back out away from the bank and I could feel it heading down the ledge into the depths.
From there it put the muscle to me. The power of a flathead that really doesn't wanna do what you want it is pretty amazing lol.
I got it in close a few times and caught glimpses but had no idea just how big. After a few struggles, it decided I could have a look...upto this point I've never seen a big flathead in person. I caught some 10-12lb fish. A buddy caught a 17 one day..this sucker looked HUGE.
I got it on the bank and was just dumfounded...and soaked. Did I mention it was pretty dang cold that night??
Here he is...29lbs. No monster..and really not uncommon...more on that to follow the pics..
Let em go...let em grow!!
So through the summer, I actually bought my reels and the silver cat mag from a guy online that turned into a friend. He introduced me to his friend and fishing partner that has a boat..the 3 of us fish together on the boat and the other guy actually became a friend and calls me regularly.
The catfish world has evolved from it being a trash fish to a trophy sport fish... actually high dollar tournaments and everything.
I've watch numerous 20-30+ pound flatheads get caught from the boat..
My luck continued and I always end up with the cold side of the boat or whatever lol. We can't really figure it out.. I've fished the same rigs and bait along side them and never had a nibble lol.
1 good one was enough for me...I'm now hooked and looking forward to April or May when they wake back up!!
Thought I'd share...these fish are expanding and they are an absolute blast to catch...