Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Sports columns

June 24, 2012

Flathead catfish: The modern-day Hoosier Jaws

Local fisherman hooks a 35-pounder on Wabash River

(Continued)

Baits for big catfish are as varied as the people who fish for them. You can buy all types of processed bait, cut bait and homemade concoctions. But when it comes to the really big fish, nothing beats a live bluegill, creek chub or shiner.

Indiana is home to four types of catfish. They are flathead, blue, channel and bullheads. Even though they can reach several pounds in weight, bullheads are the smallest of the clan and are found mostly in smaller creeks and streams.

As their name implies, flatheads have a flat head, smooth, scaleless skin and whisker like barbells around the mouth. They sport a projected lower jaw giving them a noticeable under bite. These fish can reach over four feet in length and can exceed 100 pounds. They prey almost exclusively on live bait and make their homes in undercut banks and logjams close to deep water. Taken from the White River, Indiana’s current state record stands at 80 pounds. But many people believe the record will soon be broken because those fishing specifically for huge flatheads is rapidly gaining in popularity.

Blue catfish have a forked tail and are very similar to their cousin the channel cat. They can also reach gargantuan proportions. Coloration is usually slate blue on the back shading to white on the belly. Blue catfish are usually found in larger rivers with a good current.

Channel catfish closely resemble the blue cat. They both sport deeply forked tails. However channels have a rounded anal fin and scattered black spots running along their back and sides.

Almost every body of water holds catfish and the bigger the water the bigger the fish. Catfishing in Indiana can be a memorable experience. If you’ve never tried your luck trying to catch one of our state’s largest fish, you may want to give it a shot. But be warned. When you see your line moving off and you rear back on that rod, make sure you hang on tight!

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