November 5, 2009 10:26:00 AM
Joey Pounders usually is prepared for anything when he is out on the water.
But Pounders was lounging Monday with his feet propped up on his 20-foot pontoon boat enjoying a relaxing afternoon.
A tug on the line of his seven-foot pole changed that.
Pounders quickly discovered he hadn''t landed just another fish. The 27-year-old Columbus resident had landed one of the biggest flathead catfish in the state.
A 10- to 12-minute tug of war ensued before Pounders, who was fishing alone, reeled in the "river monster," snared him with his hand, and slid him into the boat.
A game warden from the Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks weighed the catfish Wednesday at 77 pounds, which is a state record.
Pounders planned to release the fish, which is 49 1/2 inches long and has a girth of 35 inches, back into the Luxipilila Creek where he caught it Wednesday night.
"It was all adrenaline to get him into the boat," said Pounders, who broke the rod on the net he uses to catch fish two weeks ago. "When I put my hand into the fish''s mouth he clamped down and rolled. As soon as he did that I dragged him into the boat."
Pounders said the fish likely weighed more than 80 pounds when he caught it, but it lost some of its weight by the time the game warden arrived Wednesday to make everything official.
Pounders, who has been fishing for more than 20 years, said he has caught fish that weighed 30 to 50 pounds, but this catch was his biggest by far. Unfortunately, Pounders, who was tight-lining in about 20 feet of water, broke the fishing rod he used to catch the catfish between 2:45 and 3 p.m. He said he had planned to fish with a friend, who was late and didn''t get to go with him.
Having someone on hand to help him reel in the catfish would have made things easier, but Pounders said he recovered after initially being caught off guard.
"The biggest fish will always bite when you''re least prepared," Pounders said.
Pounders used seven- to 8-inch live shad as bait to catch the catfish. He said the catfish came up and looked at him after it had taken the bait and then dove deep to try to work his way free. Pounders said 15 to 20 yards of line worked its way out before he was able to control the fish and get it into the boat.
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
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