Your question is involved, so I am posting the entire question here for the benefit of our readers who may have the same question.
"As the hot August set in I started targeting the Flathead catfish in the lower Apalachicola river. In two weeks, we caught 26 cats ranging from 25 to 47 pounds in about a five-mile slot. However, during the last three weeks we have caught only one fish. Do flatheads migrate? Could we have fished out this area? I have fished all moon phases, different times of day and night and the bite is worse than slow. Any suggestions would be appreciated if you are familiar with this beast. Thanks and God bless." - Reader
The state record for a Flathead was caught in the Apalachicola River in 2004. First off, the Flathead Catfish is a non-native species to Florida. The best time to hunt this species is when it is dark, but you have already tried that. They don't migrate, but they do move around a lot. Some things that might help are:
Flatheads love lowland type areas, which is warm, slow-flowing water that usually is colored and contains a lot of sediment and organic matter. A tell-tale sign will be floating sediment or the water is murky and stained. Find an area that is like this, then find some submerged trees and brush, and start fishing it. Even fish at night because Flatheads again are primarily nocturnal feeders. I would stick to only fishing big live baits.
Bream or bluegill is a great bait for Flathead Catfish. As long as the bluegill is caught on hook and line, it is legal to use for bait. It is illegal to catch them in a net and use them (Florida Law). Many anglers use other catfish baits like chicken liver etc. Don't. I would also make sure you have a few baits out like shad, small carp, or extra-large shiners. I would suspend some baits on a big float.
Before you go, visit to Google Earth and pick a few places that would be conducive to holding Flathead Catfish like old creek channels or any major shoreline changes in the river. Always a hot spot is the outside bend of a river that has a creek channel in the bend or near the bend. If you have a sounder, look for drops in the river bottom. Flathead Catfish will group up in these areas. Most importantly Flathead Catfish are the hardest of all the catfish to catch. They move, travel and are finicky fish, so catching them all the time is tough.
It seems like your doing a good job catching them as it is. Thank you for sending in your question to The Online Fisherman.
Captain David M. Rieumont
The Online Fisherman Inc.