Places to look for flathead catfish on rivers

The best places to look for flathead catfish.

Flathead catfish will frequent areas of water ways for one of three reasons.

Seasonal patterns will often help determine locations as well.

1. Food source locating schools of bait fish will help determine where you should fish for catfish. This could be in deep open water or a shallow point.

2. Cover: catfish comfort zones Flatheads are attracted to such zones within the structure and deep water lair’s. Wood log jams, boulders or manmade elements, all attract bait fish and allows the catfish to rest and wait for an ambush of unsuspecting prey.

3. Navigation: Flatheads will use underwater contours such as ledges, channels and ditches to navigate throughout a body of water, kind of like highways. They will use this structure to travel from one area to the other in a body of water in search of either food or comfort.

Here are some good places to look for Flathead catfish when fishing on rivers, fresh water inlets, industry, current seams and eddy’s are all excellent places to throw a bait for flatheads.

Spring time Catfishing patterns: Seams and current breaks

With springtime comes good water flow and this means the catfish will spend times in more predictable areas. Current seams and current breaks make an ideal spot for catfish to collect and feed.

Current seams are created naturally by the obstruction of the water flow. Major structural elements in a river that create current breaks include points, wing dams, eddies, backwaters and deep holes. The diagram shows a cross section view of how current is diverted by a point extending into the main channel.

current seams for catfishing

Obstructions such as points and humps have developed on the river bank or river bed that will cause the water flow to slower, creating a seam between the fast flowing current and the slower diverted water. Most times holes are created on the back side of these obstructions creating eddies [dead mostly slower water] the water is funneled from the tail of the Eddie towards its head creating a whirlpool effect. Current seams and particularly eddies can concentrate drifting food. Small forage fish will use the current seam to pick through the drift, in turn these current seams will also attract the trophy catfish as they feed on the forage fish.

The one key element that must be present to make this type of spot productive, water flow or current! But another important aspect of catfishing the current seams is to figure out how each structure break effect’s the water movement and then how the fish relate to each current break in the relationship to the different water levels or flow.

During low water flow this large hole is normally not used by the fish because the water moves so slowly above it that there is no current for the fish to need it. But, during high water when the current is really moving, this spot is used by the fish as the current seams will provide food that washes downstream and collects in the eddies and for shelter (a current break) for the fish to conserve their energy.

So the trick is to know when each spot (or spot within the spot) is productive and when the fish will use them and only fish these areas during the correct water flow
If the flow is slow, the seams will just disappear and seem nonexistent and therefore not productive!

In a nutshell, understanding where the catfish hold at during the different water levels and current speeds on this particular seam will help you catch them. When the flow changes the catfish will change so you should too.

Early in the season, the best spots are often close to the shoreline and shallow. We can usually see the actual current break which looks like a ripple on the surface or current seam which looks like a line on the water with fast moving water on one side and still water on the other side, unless wind is blowing hard up river then they are hard to spot.

Generally, aggressive fish are on top of the point or in front of the current break where inactive fish may be behind or in the hole.
Start out by anchoring directly upstream of the current break and pitching a Carolina rig baited with shad or skip jack out and let the current sweep it until it settles on the bottom along the seam. If the fish are not cooperative move downstream a bit into the seam itself.

However setting up or anchoring on these current seams can sometimes be tricky, boat placement is crucial.
anchoring for catfish
If you anchor too far out in the fast side of the seam, this will cause your bait presentation to drift further out into the main current away from the seam, and if you anchor too far in on the slower side of seam, (the Eddie) will cause your boat to spin in the whirlpool effect the eddy produces. There is a fine line between these two transitions, once you find your positioning you will drastically increase your chances of hooking into a trophy catfish.

how to catch catfish on the current seams

Current seams and eddy’s are not limit to guys who only fish from a boat, bank anglers can also fish these types of spots as there are many different size current seams created naturally from river bank erosion. Small points and cut away banks all create a current seam even in small rivers and streams. Setting up on a point with moderate current flow and casting your rig out, allowing the current to sweep it into the seam is the same as anchoring a boat on it.

BONUS VIDEO: How to cut bait for catfishing in current.