Monster Flathead Catfish Caught on Ocmulgee River

By Georgia DNR, Wildlife Resources Division

Published: August 21, 2009

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The Ocmulgee River has monsters – monster catfish that is!  A 103-lbs. flathead catfish was caught by Mr. Tom Head, age 76, near Warner Robins earlier this week, according to fisheries personnel with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Wildlife Resources Division.  The fish was more than 57 inches long and greater than 41 inches in girth.  The head itself was almost 16 inches wide.

Is it a new state record?  No.  Even though this fish beats the current flathead catfish state record weight by 20 pounds, it was caught using a method called “jug fishing” that is not considered eligible for state record status.  To be eligible, it must be landed using sport fishing tackle.  Bush hooks, trot lines, jugs, baskets, nets, etc., while popular methods of fishing, are not considered sporting tackle.

Flathead catfish have a flattened head, yellowish mottled with brown and green coloring, small eyes and a lower jaw that extends beyond the upper jaw and an unforked tail. 

For anglers trying to land a large flathead, heavy tackle is a must – large spinning or casting tackle with at least 20 to 50-pound test line with heavy weights to keep bait on the bottom.  Recommended flathead baits are live goldfish, bream and shiners.  Mr. Head was using a live bream on a tuna hook when this flathead was caught.

Anglers fishing rivers during the day should target deep holes containing rock or woody structures. During dusk, dawn and at night, anglers should concentrate on shallow sandbars and shoals nearby the deep holes fished during the day.

Though most species of catfish are active throughout the day, the best summer fishing is at dusk and during the night. The best time of the year to fish for all catfish species is from early spring through the fall, with a peak in the summer.

Flathead catfish are a non-native fish to the Ocmulgee River.  This species continues to suppress native bullhead and redbreast populations in the river.  Unauthorized release of flathead catfish or any other fish species into public waters is illegal in the state of Georgia and violators can be prosecuted. 

The Ocmulgee River flows from the piedmont region of Georgia below Lake Jackson to Macon, then winds southeast through the upper coastal plain where it joins the Altamaha River east of Lumber City.  It is considered a great river for canoeing and fishing. 

For more information on flathead catfishing in Georgia, visit http://www.gofishgeorgia.com .

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Editor’s Note: Photos of the 103-lbs. flathead catfish are available for viewing on both Flickr (http://www.flickr.com/photos/wildliferesourcesdivision) and Facebook (http://www.facebook.com).

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