52-Pounder Sets Another New Lake Allatoona Catfish Record

The Allatoona blue catfish bar is raised for the second time in less than three weeks.

GON Staff | November 9, 2020

October was the month of giant blue catfish in Georgia!

There was the new state record 111-pound beast from the upper end of Lake Eufaula that’s created a buzz all over the country, and now for the second time in less than three weeks, Allatoona has produced another lake record blue catfish.

The bar has been raised significantly this time on Lake Allatoona with a 52-lb., 1-oz. blue cat, topping the record by more than 8 pounds. The previous record was a 44-lb. record fish that was just caught on Oct. 10.

The new record-holder for blue catfish on Allatoona is Aaron Churchwell, of Rome, a catfish specialist who competes in the top national catfish tournament trails. Aaron and a buddy were fishing the night of Oct. 27 when the big blue hit. Aaron said they originally were going after flathead catfish.

“Usually this time of year the flatheads stack up on the main lake. We tried to catch some crappie—flatheads love to eat crappie this time of year—but we caught only one bream and one crappie,” Aaron said.

To use gamefish like crappie or bream as bait, they must be caught on rod and reel. However, baitfish like shad can be caught in a cast net.

“We finally got out the net to catch some shad,” Aaron said.

This was one of those trips where the catfish were being particular and weren’t touching the shad or anything else. When they caught a 2-lb. channel cat, it was cut into hand-sized pieces, and that did the trick.

“I’ve fished Allatoona for about four years now, and there’s one little area on the lake that holds big fish, but they are not easy to catch,” Aaron said. “We mark them there all the time, but you just can’t get them to eat. We were drifting through, and every time we’d drift across it, we would catch one a little bigger.”

Then Aaron hooked into the one that was quite a bit more than a little bigger…

Aaron Churchwell with the new Lake Allatoona record blue catfish, a 52-lb., 1-oz. fish he caught the night of Oct. 27, 2020. After nursing the fish all night until it could be certified the next day, this picture was taken the next morning just before Aaron released the catfish alive.

Right away they weighed the fish in the boat on Aaron’s scales. The cat was in a big net that weighed about 4 pounds, and the fish and net pulled the scales to 58 pounds. 

“She threw up in the livewell a few times before we got her weighed the next day,” said Aaron, speculating that the fish might have lost about 2 pounds before they got it to certified scales the next morning at the WRD Fisheries office in Armuchee. The record catch was certified by biologist Jim Hakala with the weight of 52-lbs., 1-oz.

Then it was back to Lake Allatoona, where the lake record blue catfish was released alive and well at a boat ramp. Here’s a video of the release from Aaron’s Facebook page.

Aaron also holds the flathead catfish record for the Coosa River with a 46-lb., 6.4-oz. flathead caught in September, 2015. He said he grew up fishing for catfish in southwest Missouri. After nine years in the military, he moved to the Rome area, where he got into striped bass fishing on the Coosa River. If you’re fishing for stripers on the Coosa, you’re likely catching some big catfish, too. Aaron fell in love with fishing for and catching the big cats. He now competes in the CatMasters tournament trail, traveling all over the country.

“They run an awesome trail. It’s the biggest money pots ever,” Aaron said. “They have six or seven a year, so it’s feasible to fish them.”

He said the other big national catfish tournament trails might have 15 in a season, and for catfish anglers that’s tough.

“Another good thing is they’re throwing tournaments on lakes that are not known for big fish. They don’t chase the big-fish fisheries, like Wheeler which gets pressured a lot, which keeps it more even for everyone.”


Lake Allatoona Record Fish

Largemouth Bass16-lbs., 9-ozs.Greg Rymer08/31/82
Spotted Bass7-lbs., 11-ozs.George Clark11/18/74
Hybrid Bass13-lbs., 9.5-ozs.Danny Alsobrook02/07/90
Striped Bass42-lbs.Clint Hight02/15/02
Black Crappie3-lbs., 7.36-ozs.Corey Harmon03/05/22
White Bass3-lbs., 2-ozs.Darrell Baxter05/15/94
Flathead Catfish35-lbs., 10.88-ozs.Sandy Sanders06/20/08
Blue Catfish52-lbs., 1-oz.Aaron Churchwell10/27/20
Tiger Trout2-lbs., 12.8-ozs.Bob Geresti02/01/18
Yellow Perch1-lb., 1-oz.Blade Parker12/22/20
White Crappie3-lbs., 4.24-ozs.Cody Hopkins02/10/22
Longnose Gar27-lbs., 4-ozs.Caleb McClure06/24/23
Shellcracker1-lb., 9-ozs.Dan Huizinga05/04/23


Requirements For Georgia Lake & River Record Fish

• Fish must be caught legally by rod and reel in a manner consistent with state game and fish regulations.

• Catch must be weighed on accurate Georgia DOA certified scales with at least two witnesses present, who must be willing to provide their names and phone numbers so they can be contacted to verify the weighing of the fish.

• Witnesses to the weighing must be at least 18 years old, and they must not be members of the angler’s immediate family nor have a close personal relationship with the angler.

• Catch must be positively identified by qualified DNR personnel.

GON’s records are compiled and maintained by GON, to be awarded at GON’s discretion. Additional steps may be required for record consideration.

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