Shovelhead Fishing With Bluegill

Shovelhead Fishing With Bluegill
Shovelhead, or flathead, catfish are the more aggressive side of the family in comparison to other varieties, like the channel catfish. Many catfish prefer to scrounge and seek out decaying meals. The shovelhead will dine on such fare, but they will also aggressively attack a smaller bait fish especially if it appears injured. A small bluegill fighting through the water is prime bait for a shovelhead looking for an easy meal.


Difficulty: Easy

Things You’ll Need:
  • Medium heavy rod with matched reel and line (20 pound test or heavier)
  • 3 way swivel
  • Scissors
  • 1/2 ounce bank weight
  • Circle octopus hook (2/0 or larger)
  • Bluegill fish
Step 1
Cut one length of leader 12 inches long and another length 20 inches long with a sharp pair of scissors from your main fishing line.
Step 2
Attach a three way swivel to the end of your main fishing line with a Uni knot by feeding several inches of line through one eye of the swivel. Pull the free end up along side the main line to form a double line. Turn the free end back toward the swivel forming a loop along side the main line. Wrap the free end around the doubled line and through the loop three times. Moisten the knot, pull tight and trim the excess line from the free end with scissors.
Step 3
Attach the 12-inch leader length to the three way swivel with a Uni knot. Tie a 1/2 oz. bank or similar weight to the free end with a Uni knot. Refer to step two for tying instructions, and remember to moisten the knot before tightening.
Step 4
Tie the 20-inch leader length to the remaining free eye of the three way swivel with a uni knot. Attach a 2/0 or larger circle octopus hook to the free end of the 20-inch leader length with a Palomar knot. Tie the knot by feeding several inches of line through the eye so it exits on the point side of the hook. Turn the free end back through the eye forming a loop on one side of the eye and a double line on the other. Tie and overhand knot with the loop and doubled line and pull the loop down around the bend of the hook. Moisten the knot, pull tight and trim excess line from the free end of the knot with scissors.
Step 5
Clip off part of one dorsal or side fin of a 3- to 4-inch long bluegill with scissors. Clip the fin so that the bluegill will struggle in the water and better attract shovelhead, or flathead, catfish. Insert the point of the circle octopus hook through the bottom of the jaw and out near the nose of the fish.
Step 6
Cast the rig with the bluegill to areas where water enters a pond or lake. The point where a stream, river or other current enters will carry the struggling bluegill into deeper water where shovelhead catfish search for food. Allow the bluegill to move in the water naturally. Resist the temptation to retrieve the fish or otherwise provide movement.
Step 7
Watch for the line to tighten in the water indicating a shovelhead has taken the bait. Place your thumb and index finger on the line just in front of the reel to feel for motion indicating a strike. Raise the tip of the rod and reel down on the line to set the hook. Maintain constant pressure on the line while playing and retrieving the catfish.

Article Written By Keith Dooley

Keith Dooley has a degree in outdoor education and sports management. He has worked as an assistant athletic director, head coach and assistant coach in various sports including football, softball and golf. Dooley has worked for various websites in the past, contributing instructional articles on a wide variety of topics.

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