The flathead catfish is probably the biggest, baddest fish in Arizona waters, and anglers can get tips on flathead fishing at the free Arizona Game and Fish Outdoor Expo Saturday and Sunday, April 2 and 3.
This is the best time of the year to experience a flathead fishing adventure, and “Flathead” Ed Wilcoxson, who in April of 2013 caught the heaviest recorded fish in Arizona history — a 76.54-pound flathead catfish out of Bartlett Lake — will be telling stories and tossing tips from the Arizona Catfish Conservation Association (ACCA) booth.
Look for Flathead Ed at the Ben Avery Shooting Facility both days (Sat. 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.; Sun. 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.) in the Outdoor Groups and Experts tent, west of the food court, located in the main area (tan portion of the map; click to enlarge):
His replica of the state record flathead catfish will be on display as well.
“I’m happy to talk catfish to anybody who comes out,” said Wilcoxson, who resides in Surprise. “I’ll give them some tips and get them on some of these big guys.”
Wilcoxson said flathead at Bartlett Lake have moved into 25 feet of water, and carp — a primary flathead bait — are easy to catch using corn.
But he thinks the next state record flathead will come out of Lake Pleasant.
“ACCA has a (permit) with Game and Fish to tag flatheads and we’ve been noticing about 5 pounds a year in growth out of Pleasant,” Wilcoxson said. “I’ve been catching some monsters out there. The Castle Creek arm is good and Fireman’s Cove, too.”
While you’re at the Expo, take the kids fishing in the Family Adventure area. When the bluegill bite and bounce the rod tips, the kids’ facial expressions range from shock and excitement to joy and laughter.
Two big bubbling tanks full of catch-and-release bluegill will be lined with kids — and all ages will have an opportunity to try their hand at fishing.
See more information on the Expo, and while you’re there, be sure to post with #AZGFDexpo.