G. Sam Piatt
PDT Outdoor Columnist
Record fish are few and far between, but now and then a big one swims along to give us a thrill and make us think about the records.
About this time of the year last year, Tyler Dean, 17, was fishing in the inlet of the Ohio River, on the Ohio shore just upstream from the Greenup Dam, when he hooked and landed the kind of fish you dream about.
He was fishing from the shore and had baited up with chicken liver and a bluegill. He thought the inlet, which is fairly shallow, might be a good place for a big catfish to come looking for dinner. He cast far out and settled down to wait.
Suddenly something just simply tried to take the rod and reel right out of his hands!
He set the hook and held on.
“I wasn’t sure what I had, but I knew it was big,” Dean said.
He estimated the fight lasted 45 minutes. For a while it wasn’t certain which would wear down first, the fisherman or the fish.
Finally, Dean got it in close enough to shore that he could see it was a huge catfish, a blue. With the help of his friend and fishing buddy, Jamie Howard, they managed to grasp the fish by the gills and drag it up onto shore.
They quickly got it to some scales, which registered it at 50 pounds even.
Then, they headed to a friend’s farm pond on the Ohio side to release it alive.
“We probably had it out of the water no longer than 15 minutes, and we were pouring water over it from time to time,” Dean said. “We thought for sure it would make it, but it died. I hated that, because he had given me such a wonderful battle.”
OHIO RECORD FISH
Realizing the battle that fish gave Dean, think of what a fight Chris Rolph must have had on his hands when he caught nearly twice that big!
The biggest fish on Ohio’s list of record fishes is a blue catfish. It weighed 96 pounds and was 54 and one-half inches long. Rolph, of Williamsburg, Ohio caught it from the Ohio River just over five years ago.
Speaking on the matter of record fish caught by rod adn reel, does the biggest fish living out its short life in lake or stream or farm pond just happen to come swimming along once in a lifetime and some lucky angler hooks and lands it, or what?
Take Ohio’s record fish, for instance. It’s been more than 38 years since Roy Landsberger, of Kensington, Ohio caught the state record 13.13-pound (25 and one-sixteenth inches) largemouth bass from a farm pond, its location not revealed.
And it has been more than 21 years since Randy Van Dam of Kalamazoo, Mich. caught the 9.5-pound (23 and ½ inches) Ohio record smallmouth bass from Lake Erie.
My goodness, it’s going on 82 years since the Ohio record little goggle-eyed, red-eyed rock bass was caught by the late George Keller of Dayton. He caught it from Deer Creek, near London. It weighed 1.97 pounds and was 14 and three-quarter inches long.
I, and others, have caught some big rock bass from Lake Erie, but never thought to weigh one.
The Ohio record spotted bass, often mistaken for a largemouth, was caught by Roger Trainer of Waverly from Lake White, just outside Waverly, the same year the record largemouth was caught. It weighed just 5.25 pounds but measured 21 inches in length.
Ohio’s record muskie has stood for more than 42 years. The 55.13-pounder, measuring 50 and one-quarter inches, was caught from Piedmont Lake in April 1972 by Joe Lykins, who lived nearby the lake.
SOME KENTUCKY RECORDS
Kentucky’s state record smallmouth, largemouth and spotted basses have also stood unchallenged for long years.
It has been 59 years since David Hayes caught the world’s record smallmouth from the Kentucky portion of Dale Hollow Lake. It weighed 11 pounds, 15 ounces. He caught it on a hot July day in 1955 while trolling a bomber lure.
Dale Wilson caught the state record largemouth 30 years ago from Woods Creek Lake. It weighed 13 pounds, 10.4 ounces and measured 25 and one-quarter inches. Before that, Delbert Grizzle’s 13-pound, 8-ounce largemouth caught from Greenbo Lake had stood as the record for 18 years. It was longer that Wilson’s at 27 and one-half inches, but records are determined by poundage.
A. E. Sellers caught his 7-pound, 10-ounce Kentucky record spotted bass 44 years ago from “Nelson County Waters.”
Ohio’s record muskie was more than eight pounds bigger than Kentucky’s record, which tipped the scales at 47 pounds and was caught four years ago from Cave Run Lake.
A couple of future columns will deal with the possibilities of catching record bass.
One will attempt to determine if the new state record largemouth swims in Greenbo. Another will involve an interview with the late Billy Westmorland on whether Dale Hollow Lake harbors a smallmouth that will top the world’s record.
He said he had it hooked for a while, you know.
G. Sam Piatt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. To order his books, go to the Web site, gsampiattbooks.com.