Flathead Catfish - Trophy Fish with Scott Manning

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Instructor: Scott Manning

When targeting giant catfish, the change of seasons is a good time to fish. As fall and summer fade, water cools, causing a metabolic shift in freshwater predator behavior. Flathead catfish, like bears, are more aggressive as they fatten up, preparing for hibernation.

Description / Review / Instructor


  • Opportunities: Transition from summer to fall offers opportunities for trophy flathead catfish.
  • Behavior: Catfish move from deep waters seeking warmth and start to bulk up for colder temperatures.
  • Key Period: After the first cold front, with surface water temperature dropping.
  • Expert Insights: Capt. Scott Manning offers expertise on catfishing during this period.
  • Habitat: Flathead catfish prefer deep waters and structures for ambushing bait.
  • Equipment: Importance of using the right tackle, bait size, and depth.
  • Techniques: Boat positioning, use of electronics, and the need for patience.
  • Goal: Catching catfish over 40 pounds during this transition period.

Catching Trophy Flathead Catfish: Transitioning from Summer to Fall

The transition from summer's warm embrace to autumn's crisp air is more than just a change of seasons. For those passionate about fishing, it's a golden window to reel in a behemoth flathead catfish—a trophy worth boasting about.

As summer wanes, these majestic fish begin their migration from the deep abyss in pursuit of warmer waters. And as they prepare for the impending cold, they enter a phase of voracious feeding. These giants, often referred to as "donkeys" in the fishing community, become increasingly aggressive and hungry.

Understanding the Seasonal Shift

In this comprehensive In The Spread fishing video, we delve deep into the strategies to exploit this seasonal behavior. Following the year's first cold front, both the water's surface temperature and the air see a noticeable dip. As the water at the bottom begins its transition, these shifts act as a dinner bell for the flatheads, signaling them to feed rampantly. This period of heightened activity offers a prime opportunity for anglers to hook a leviathan.

Meet Capt. Scott Manning: The Big Fish Mechanic

If the name Scott Manning isn't on your radar, it's high time it should be. Revered as a 'big fish wrangler', Scott's prowess in boating trophy catfish is legendary. With a particular affinity for blue and flathead catfish, he's the go-to expert, especially when it comes to the latter.

For those looking to elevate their catfishing game, Scott's insights are invaluable. His simplistic yet effective approach can be seamlessly integrated into your fishing regimen. In our video, he generously shares his entire methodology—covering where to find the fish, how to interpret their behavior, and the tools and techniques to employ.

Decoding the Habitat of Flathead Catfish

Flatheads are deep-sea aficionados with a penchant for structure. They excel in ambushing prey that clings to such terrains. Armed with a few waypoints indicating significant relief, you're already a step ahead. But if not, fear not. Time invested in studying maps or learning from seasoned anglers will prove beneficial. As you navigate channels, feeder points, and confluence areas, keep an eagle eye on your bottom machine. Notable structures like dips, rock piles, or old timber are prime flathead habitats.

Positioning & Equipment: Getting it Right

Once you've pinpointed your desired fishing spot, positioning is paramount. Scott emphasizes the importance of being in the exact right spot—a few feet off, and you could miss the prize. Given that flathead fishing is largely a deep-water affair, traditional anchoring is discouraged. Instead, spot lock with a trolling motor to maintain your position.

Before casting your line, ensure you're equipped with the right gear. Scott sheds light on his preferred bait and tackle choices, the optimal bait size, and the significance of bait depth. A minor misstep here could mean the difference between a successful catch and going home empty-handed.

Reading the Underwater World

Before immersing yourself in the act, it's crucial to gauge the underwater activity. Are the waters teeming with life? If it's a barren scene, it might be wise to move on. Scott often points out two common pitfalls for anglers: neglecting their electronics and impatience. Being able to interpret what your electronic tools show you and having the tenacity to wait are key.

There's a particular art to trophy fishing. Seeking that one mighty bite can sometimes be a day-long endeavor. But as Scott's experiences attest, the wait is often worth the reward.

Conclusion: Mastering the Art of Catching Giant Catfish

Our fishing guide is an all-encompassing resource for those aspiring to catch catfish weighing over 40 pounds. This post-cold front window is a prime time for flathead catfishing. Their innate biology drives them to feed more during this period. With guidance from a maestro like Scott Manning, success is not just about luck—it's about strategy. Equip yourself with knowledge, and may your next fishing expedition yield a giant catch!


Why is the transition from summer to fall important for catfishing?
The transition prompts catfish to move from deep waters in search of warmth. Larger flathead catfish also increase their feeding during this period to prepare for colder waters.

Who is Capt. Scott Manning?
He's renowned in the catfishing world as an expert in catching big fish, especially blue and flathead catfish.

Why are electronics important in catfishing?
Electronics help in locating the fish, understanding their behavior, identifying good structures, and triggering bites. Proper use of electronics can significantly improve the chances of a successful catch.

How long might one have to wait for a big catch?
Catching giant catfish requires patience. Sometimes, one might have to wait for hours on a promising spot to get that one successful bite.

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Scott Manning

Scott Manning, a U.S. Military veteran, has become a master angler and steward of the waterways in East Tennessee. He specializes in capturing Monster Catfish, a species that thrives in the deep waters of the Tennessee River Monsters. Manning's company, Tennessee River Monsters, offers a unique perspective on the catfish fishery, highlighting the importance of understanding and sharing knowledge about the great outdoors.

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