Flathead Catfish

Flathead Catfish are restricted to large rivers in southeast South Dakota and Lake Mitchell in Davison County. Their preferred habitat is the warm water of large rivers and impoundments. Flathead Catfish seem to avoid fast currents and instead seek deep pools with abundant cover. They feed on live or dead fish but may also eat insects and crustaceans. 

The body of the Flathead Catfish is tubular in shape and lacks scales. Their body is brown to yellow and is mottled or speckled with darker brown-black colors.  The belly is a pale yellow to cream color. They have a broad, flat head with a protruding lower jaw. The barbels are a striking characteristic of this species and other catfish family members.

GFP is currenty conducting a study on both Channel and Flathead Catfish on the James River.  More information regarding this study can be found on the Lower James River Catfish Study page.

Daily Limit:


Limits apply to any combination of catfish species.


MN/SD Border waters: 5 with only one longer than 24 inches

IA/SD Border waters: 15

Missouri River, Bad River, Belle Fourche River, Cheyenne River, Grand River, Little Missouri, Moreau River, White River: No limit

Possession Limit:


Proud Angler Qualifications:

15 pounds

30 inches (released fish only)