There are so many alternatives and choices for flathead catfish baits that it seems that almost anything they can get into their big mouths they'll eat. These critters can grow to be 5 feet and weigh 123 pounds. No kidding almost as big as a teenager or large dog. Imagine hooking a large dog on the end of your line. Or a teenager! Wow.
These guys like to hang out in deep water and around submerged logs and old tires and such. A good time to go for them is in the early morning or late in the afternoon and evening. But the best times for these guys seem to be at night and you can sometimes use a lantern hanging over the water to attract bugs and other fish that the flatheads love to feed on.
Bream is one of their favorite foods but they also like perch and sunfish. But these guys are scavengers so really they'll eat almost anything they can get their mouths around. This includes trash and detritus.
The thing about these guys is that they are such voracious eaters that they have been known to decimate native populations of fish. And I say native because the flatheads originated in the waters of the Mississippi but have been transplanted to ponds and rivers all over the U.S. So some native species get threatened by these critters bottomless pit of an appetite.
I guess that's why when it comes to bait flatheads are not the picky. As long as it's yummy they'll eat almost anything. But it seems that they especially like baitfish. This is smaller fish you catch, cut up and put on the line to entice the catfish out of their hiding places to come make a meal of your hook.
Flatheads like to feed off the bottom. So that means you have to set your hook with enough weight to bring the bait to the bottom so it will just sit there. This usually precludes using a floater or a bobber. Without the bobber the weight carries the hook to the bottom, and sits on the bottom and the baited hook will usually float up a little bit above the bottom near the weight.
Even though their preferred foods are live or freshly cut fish, usually the fish that lives in flathead's environment, if these guys are really hungry they'll eat peanut butter, or cheese or popcorn. As long as it's edible they'll eat it. Would they eat lettuce? Hm. Never tried that one before. Perhaps if you wrapped the lettuce around some smelly shrimp they'll gobble it up in no time flat.
How about this: parboiling some carrot chunks so they're not too soft but easy enough to put on a hook and soaking the chunks in shrimp oil. That would be a really cheap alternative to buying fresh bait or those fake wiggler worms you get at the tackle shop.
Almost anything wild and crazy is game for flathead catfish baits. Just make sure their mouths are big enough for it.