David Munoz

Flatheads vs Smallies

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Courtesy Oklahoma DWC

Courtesy Oklahoma DWC

Hi guys,I have a theory for you to ponder.

Here is a question about flathead catfish and smallmouth bass from one of our readers. Please comment below!

Here on the Maumee River there’s a stretch that I fish from a boat. It’s a pool that runs about mile in between two rapid areas.I used to catch smallies there a lot,at the rapids and along the stretch of the pool.

About seven years ago I noticed a lot of Flatheads showing up there. I’ve caught them up to 50lbs trolling with crankbaits. There was a story a few years ago about a boater finding a huge flathead with a 20 inch smallie in it’s mouth floundering on the surface,which he pulled out and saved the flathead. Since the flatheads started showing up I’ve noticed less and less smallies. There and more upriver where I wade in the shallows.

My question is, could the flatheads have, over the last few years displaced the smallies into the shallow areas upstream?

Thanks for your input!

9 Responses to Flatheads vs Smallies

  1. bobber D August 17, 2013 at 11:07 am

    I’m sure your state wildlife biologist could shed some light on the flathead v. smallie situation.

  2. Michael Caldwell August 17, 2013 at 11:19 am

    I think it’s entirely possible the flatheads displaced the smallies. Not only might giant flatheads prey on smallmouth, but because of the way catfish tend to muddy up waters, it might make the smallmouth and other sunfish, which prefer cleaner waters, want to move out of that area.

  3. Rich G August 17, 2013 at 11:53 am

    That is totally possible since Flathead catfish prefer live bait.. When I fish them around me I use anything from a bluegill to a live bullhead. If there is a large population of small mouth bass and the cats have moved in, it seems logical.

  4. toby bowmaster August 17, 2013 at 12:41 pm

    well the bigger a fish gets the bigger thier prey..a 20in smallie to a catfish that big would probly be an adjustment to his diet as he got bigger..he knew he needed something bigger to appease his appitite..

  5. MonsterRiverBass.com August 17, 2013 at 7:02 pm

    I think so for the reason of water clarity.

  6. easmallie August 22, 2013 at 9:20 am

    Personally I have seen them co-exist in my main stream (Sugar Creek in Montgomery Co, Indiana). They certainly will eat smallmouth. I use live minnows/suckers a lot (cast net so whatever I can harvest locally for bait) and catch a few channel and flat heads… But far and away catch 50 bass a day and probably a cat on every 2nd or 3rd trip. Point being there’s a healthy supply of SMB and a few cats so in my case they are doing well together.

  7. mike smith October 20, 2013 at 10:05 pm

    I’ve fished for smallies in the maumee for many years and I have noticed that in those areas i use to catch them in I’ve been catching big flatheads, I belive that our ecosystem has changed and we are gonna be catching lots of unusual fish that was never there before.

  8. Charles Bradley Quillen January 4, 2014 at 10:01 am

    I know this is 5 months old…but I have some input. By and large, the rivers I’ve fished that hold flatheads are the best smallie waters I’ve experienced, so I’m inclined to think they do OK together. Another data point that is of utmost importance: flatheads are *delicious*…they’re absolutely worth the time it takes to clean ’em up. Don’t try to skin ’em without skinning pliers, though…if you don’t have skinning pliers, filet ’em and take the skin off with the filet knife. At any rate, if you hate ’em for eating your smallies, get revenge by eating THEM. It’ll be the most delicious sort of revenge you’ve ever experienced, I assure you. They’re just plain awesome table fare.

  9. Jonathan McClain March 5, 2015 at 5:09 pm

    I fish the Genessee River in upstate NY. In the Genny I have seen an abundant number of smallmouth fry. This leads me to believe the smallies and the catfish are co-existing appropriately. I might add there are good numbers of rockies, walleye, and pike as well. One may wonder regarding the river in question; if some other species have been displaced which now effects the relationship between the flats and smallies?


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