Fishing Report: Flathead catfish
I fished Tuesday night into Wednesday morning with “Flathead” Ed Wilcoxson at Bartlett Lake in the Yellow Cliffs area. Although flathead catfish action had been picking up, it has been mysteriously slow at Bartlett during the nights the past few days.
Although Ed holds the record for the heaviest recorded fish in Arizona history (a 76.54-pound flathead caught almost exactly 5 years ago from Bartlett), we had no luck Tuesday night fishing with live bluegills and heavy tackle, including 50-pound braided line with 80-pound steel leaders in about 35 feet of water.
The flathead scene
Surface water temperature topped out in the high-60s and skies were mostly clear on a waning full moon. Flathead catfish had been moving closer to shore as they should begin feeding heavily for their typical summertime spawn. As is the case, though, flathead fishing can bust wide open at anytime this month and state records are possible any given day or night.
Anglers should still have no problem getting bluegills and carp for bait (or for your plate) at Bartlett. See the full fishing regulations (page. 10-11) for legal species, areas and regulations regarding live baitfish.
Crappie are spawning and action is good over various structure in shallow water. Try live minnows (or Berkeley Gulp minnows) with 4-pound test line, small hooks (No. 10-12) and ultralight rods.
Before flathead fishing, we made a quick stop for crappie:
They made for some great fish tacos:
Ed said he’d try fishing the daytime instead for flatheads at Bartlett, and if the slow fishing continues, head to Lake Pleasant, which is another great flathead catfishing spot.
Oh, and Ed’s boat? Incredible. The outside is painted with catfish-camo.
The inside is decked out with a grill, fold-out cots, and even a Lazy Boy camo-colored recliner.
All in all, it was an incredible trip with tons of flathead fishing tips (some that can’t be mentioned here) straight from the mouth of the state record holder himself.