According to guide Chris Simpson, flatheads are caught less frequently than Lake Murray’s other catfish species, but they’re still caught in reasonable numbers and excellent sizes.

By May, Simpson said flatheads are active, and to focus on them, the first major change he makes is the use whole, live baits.

“I’ll often use a whole live gizzard shad, herring, white perch or other bait instead of cut bait when drifting, and that alone will increase the odds for catching a big flathead,” he said. “I’ll frequently use live bait to target a big flathead if a client really wants to catch one but still wants to catch a good assortment of other species. But catching them drifting is a bit more random than anchoring.

“To single out big flatheads specifically, I’ll anchor on ledges, points or humps in the same basic depths of water I’m drifting. We’ll have the same forage, structure and pattern of baitfish and flatheads, like the other catfish species, orient to forage.”

Simpson said he’ll scatter whole, live baits of various sizes — some quite large — around the boat, waiting on flatheads to come to his location. 

“Flatheads are unique from the other species in that anchoring is the best technique if you want to target a big flathead or two,” he said. “It requires patience, but it’s a productive technique, and certainly a big blue catfish will take live bait, so there’s usually some action with blues anyway. But live baits for big flatheads are certainly the best tactic.”

He will give flatheads at least 90 minutes before pulling anchor and trying another spot.