OK here’s the story on the biggun that didn’t get away.
Saturday a couple of friends and me got up early and headed to the river. We got on the water about 7:30 and spent the first three hours anchoring in several spots with only a few fish caught (20 & 8 pounders). From where we were anchored there was a deep section of water (60ft) a short boat ride away that I have been wanting to drift. So we got rigged up with our drifting poles and on the first pass we caught one 20lb fish on the start of the drift with a few other good bites to go with it. Kept drifting way on down river and come through another area where we had several bites and caught two 8lbers. Well we decided to head back up river to make another drift through the area we had the bigger bites in. As we motored back up, fresh bait was cut for everyone and I put on a big chunk of prime cut “skippy steak” (cut about 1 inch thick from a big skipper). As the boat stopped I got up front on the trolling motor and got my bait in the water . Well it happened quick, I can remember the sinker hitting the bottom maybe 3 times before I felt something grab hold. I give a pretty good tug to set the hook and said “there he is”. (but I say that out of habit everytime I hook a fish. I didn’t really think I had HIM, ol’big boy, the one we all dream of hooking in to.
OK back to the story…..I didn’t think I had a HUGE fish at first but I knew he was a goodun. I told the fellas he is forty or better. Well the first 30 seconds of this fight was easy until he realized he was hooked. Then he was tired of playing with me and started making big hard pulling runs and the boat was being pulled around like a bobber (I kid you not…just before we had started this drift my buddy Brian said “I want to hook into something that will pull this boat sideways” and that’s literally what this fish did.
Sometime into the battle I turned my clicker on so the guys could hear just how much line he was running out and how fast the drag was singing. They had their lines in the boat and were just watching in amazement. I finally started to realize I had a HUGE fish. That is when I looked at Brian and Joey and said “This is HIM boys, I’ve got’em on.” He would run off over a 100ft of line in just seconds then stop. I could work some line back then he would take off again and there was no stopping him, just hold on was all I could do. ( I can remember thinking to myself to keep a good grip on the rod because it would have shot out of my hand like a rocket if I would’ve loosened my grip some).
After several of those drag squeelin runs (maybe 10 or 15 I lost track) he was starting to give it up. I wished all yall could have seen it when he rolled up out of that muddy water. He was so huge it was scary. Well thankfully I had brought the BIG dip net and it was not really big enough but after some VERY TENSE seconds the “Two man Allstar Dip Net Team (Brian & Joey)” got him to fold up and go in the net. Now them getting him in the boat was a tougher challenge. They did it on the third try but just barely.
All we could think about was hurry and get the cameras (because no way anybodys gonna believe this without pictures) and we wanted to get him back in the water ASAP. Before we took him out of the net we wanted to try to weigh him. I had gotten a good scale a few years ago that would weigh up to 200lbs so I was prepared there, but never figured on how to hold up a fish up this size. After a few tries two of us (Joey and me) stood on the edge of the deck and held him while Brian looked at the scales. He said it hit the 118lb mark and maybe 120 but it was also cycling down to 115. I told him to call it and he said 116 was his conservative weight but thought it might go a little heavier in realty. We never could get the big cat up fully suspended without him touching the side of the deck. I just never imagined a fish that size would be so hard to handle.
I didn’t believe it would be enough to be a world record but I never thought about the state record. Which just happens to be 116lbs for Arkansas. We all kept saying we have got to get this fish back in the water soon and Joey dipped water out of the river and poured on him to keep him wet during the picture taking.
In hindsight, maybe I could have tied him out in the edge of the current while we could have found someone to come do an official weight. He might have been alright for little while like that.
But the best part of the whole story is this….after getting him back in the water he stayed on top for a short time, then down he went to the deep muddy waters of the Mighty Mississippi looking very healthy with only his feelings hurt, (haha), to “grow up” and hopefully be on the other end of one of our lines again some day. Then he can become the new world record. Ha Ha
I have attached some pics for yall to see, the boat was a mess and not too much scenic background but it’s all we could do to get him on my lap.
Man…..I fill so blessed to have caught this fish of a lifetime and thank the good Lord above for just the opportunity.
I didn’t mean for it to be this long but I wanted to give everyone a good description of how it all happened and hopefully get ya pumped up for your next Big Catfishing Adventure.