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Flathead Catfish

The flathead catfish (Pylodictis olivaris), also known as the yellow catfish or Opelousas catfish, is a large freshwater fish species native to North America. It is known for its distinctive appearance and is a popular target for anglers due to its size and challenging fight. Here are some key characteristics and information about the flathead catfish:

Physical Characteristics:

  • The flathead catfish is named for its flattened head, which is wide and rounded.
  • It has a mottled or blotchy olive-brown to yellow-brown coloration on its body, often with a pale underbelly.
  • Its lower jaw protrudes slightly beyond the upper jaw, giving it an underslung appearance.
  • Flathead catfish have a robust body and a long, sleek tail fin, which contributes to their powerful swimming ability.


  • Flathead catfish are known for their impressive size. They can grow to be very large, with some individuals reaching lengths of over 50 inches (125 cm) and weighing over 100 pounds (45 kg).


  • Flathead catfish are primarily found in slow-moving rivers, large lakes, reservoirs, and some backwater areas. They prefer areas with plenty of underwater structures like fallen trees, rocks, and submerged vegetation, where they can hide and ambush prey.


  • These catfish are opportunistic predators and are known for their voracious appetite. They feed on a variety of prey, including fish, crustaceans, insects, and small mammals.
  • Live bait, such as fish, is often used when targeting flathead catfish, as they are known for their preference for live prey.


  • Flathead catfish are generally nocturnal, becoming more active during the evening and night.
  • They are solitary fish and tend to be territorial, with individual fish occupying specific hunting areas.

Fishing for Flathead Catfish:

  • Anglers often use live baitfish, such as bluegill, sunfish, or small catfish, to target flathead catfish. These baitfish are placed on large hooks and presented near the fish's preferred hiding spots.
  • Fishing for flathead catfish can require patience, as they are known for their cautious and sometimes slow approach to bait.
  • Anglers often use heavy tackle to handle the potential size of flathead catfish, including strong fishing rods, heavy-duty reels, and thick fishing line.


  • Flathead catfish are not considered endangered, but they are regulated by fishing regulations in many areas to protect their populations and maintain sustainable fisheries.

Due to their size and the thrill of landing such a powerful fish, flathead catfish are a popular target for sport anglers in many regions. However, anglers should be aware of local fishing regulations and practice catch-and-release when appropriate to ensure the long-term health of flathead catfish populations. 

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