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  • Scientific Name: Pylodictis olivaris
  • Found in Illinois: Statewide
  • State Average: 17"
  • State Record: 81 lbs/6.4 ounces (2015)
  • Best Lures: artificial baits, minnows, sunfish, shad, crayfish, and night crawlers
  • Top 3 Rivers (based on average size): Wabash, Illinois, Mississippi

Angling Tips:

Rod and reel anglers may have the greatest success with flathead catfish just below reservoir dams. Flatheads like to attack moving baits and fishing live baits on the bottom near submerged logs, preferably in deeper water, is a popular method.

Catfish have long, sharp spines on the front edges of their dorsal fins that are connected to venomous glands. Although the spines can tear skin, the glands excrete venom. The venom is irritating and some people have had serious problems with infection afterward.

Habitat: While flatheads can be found in a wide variety of aquatic systems (small to large rivers, reservoirs), they are most likely to be found near such submerged wood cover as logs and rootwads. In rivers, they are typically found in the deeper waters compared to other sections of the river with moderate current and readily accessible food sources.

Feeding and Habits: Flathead diets consist of mainly baitfish (e.g., shad, carp, drum, panfish) and tend to feed at night.

Reproduction: Flatheads begin spawning in late June and early July when waters reach over 70°F. The males build nests in areas where there are submerged logs or other similar types of debris and ferociously guard and defend the nest after fertilization. The size of the nest is usually dependent on the size of the female. After hatching, the fry feed on insects and worms in the shallow, rocky or sandy substrate and become sexually mature in 4–5 years, depending on sex.

Recent Research: Read about the recent research being conducted on flathead catfish in the wabash river.