The flathead catfish bite at Lake Wylie heats up when summer hot arrives, according to guide Rodger Taylor of Rock Hill, S.C.
“While some catfish like blues tend to feed year-round, summer is the time for flatheads,” Taylor said. “To avoid the heat, the most-comfortable time to chase flatheads is very early in the morning and at night. Flatheads, like all species of catfish, will bite during the day, but over the years, I have learned that early morning and at night is best to avoid recreational boaters as well as the heat.”
Flatheads are well distributed across Lake Wylie, from the upper reaches near Mt. Holly, N.C., down to the India Hook Dam in South Carolina. Taylor targets fish in the river section, primarily on the North Carolina side of the lake.
“Most of the good river habitat is very recognizable, where the deep bends, scour holes and water movement is perceptible,” he said. “Rocks, submerged timber, bridge pilings, deep cut banks and sometimes boat docks provide cover for flatheads.”
Flatheads love cover, but they will feed shallow in times of low light, he said.
“Another way to find flatheads, particularly during the day, is by drift-fishing,” Taylor said. “Flatheads like to hold close to the channel drop. Multiple fish can be on the drop, so when a flathead is caught on a drift, it pays to repeat the drift, with a good chance of drifting up another one.”
But Taylor (803-517-7828) said he likes to target flatheads by anchoring near prime habitat, like the shallow side of a deep hole or parallel to the deepest part of the scour hole, and casting baits out from deep to shallow. Taylor said flatheads are predators and live prey.
“Some of the best offerings include bluegill, white perch, goldfish or small carp — and even small catfish. Using large live baits is often preferred by anglers who are seeking that special, trophy fish,” he said.
But, he added, a flathead won’t refuse fresh-cut shad or other cut fish baits.
Wylie flatheads are very common the 12- to 20-pound range, Taylor said, and while trophy fish over 40 pounds are rare, quite a few of that size are caught every year.
Taylor said that targeting flatheads in August has become a tradition for many hardcore catfish anglers.
“Pound for pound, flatheads are better fighters than blues or channels. They also present a greater challenge to catch and, unlike blues they are rarely caught in the winter when water is very cold,” he said.