63 Pound Blue Cat From Goat Rock Caught On 8-lb. Test

This catfish took Gene Fleming and his brother-in-law on a 300-yard ride before being boated.

Brad Gill | February 25, 2020

Gene Fleming, of Phenix City, Ala., set a pretty serious benchmark for the blue catfish record on Goat Rock Lake on the Chattahoochee River above Columbus.

On Feb. 23, at just about dark, Gene was able to put a 63-lb. blue catfish in the boat that he caught on just 8-lb. test while fishing a white Zoom fluke.

It was about 2 p.m. when Gene and his brother-in-law, Billy Leffinghamwell, also from Phenix City, launched at the Sandy Point boat ramp just below the Bartletts Ferry dam.

“We did go down to catfish,” said Gene. “I took rooster liver, shad, nightcrawlers. We caught two little cats bottom fishing, one was 1 1/2 and the other about 4 pounds.”

Despite a slow day of cat fishing, they did manage nine stripers while throwing Flukes as they were anchored up bottom fishing. About 5:30, Gene and Billy were anchored on their last hole of the day, which was a little creek mouth just below the ramp. Gene was throwing a white Fluke that he had dyed the tail green.

The soft plastic was threaded on a 1/2-oz. steel hook. Gene was using a 7-foot, 4-inch Xtreme Angler Series spinning rod he uses just for striper fishing.

“When that joker hit that fluke, I thought I had hooked the biggest striper I had ever hung,” said Gene. “When this fish came out of the creek and hit the main channel, he almost stripped me dry.

Gene Fleming, of Phenix City, Ala., with the Goat Rock blue catfish record, a 63-pounder he caught on Feb. 23.

“I had my brother-in-law snatch the anchor up. All the catfish rods were still out. He started reeling as we went, but we were dragging catfish rods behind us, and he was pulling us down river.”

The chase would take Gene and Billy 300 yards and last about 35 minutes. With 8-lb. test, Gene really had to just let the fish tire out.

“It took me about 25 minutes just to pull him up to the boat where I could see what he was and another 10 minutes where we could get just his head in the net. It took both of us to get him in the boat,” said Gene.

A proper drag and patience is what put this fish in the boat. However, Gene said his tackle did play a part.

Here’s the Fluke on a 1/2-oz. steel jig-head hook that Gene used to catch the giant blue catfish.

“I normally use a 1/4-oz. pink jig head with my flukes, but because of the swifter water, I put a 1/2-oz. steel hook in the fluke, and that’s what saved me,” said Gene. “If it would have been one of those little pink hooks, he would have just straightened it out.”

Gene immediately headed back toward the boat ramp. His scales showed that the fish weighed around 58 pounds, but he knew it was not an accurate weight. The fish measured 4-feet, 2-inches and had a 36-inch girth.

After calling GON the next morning, we were able to direct Gene to Lee’s Crossing Feed and Seed at 1832 Vernon Road, LaGrange, GA 30240. Donny and Will Turner with the feed store were on hand and happy to weigh the giant catfish on their certified scales. The fish weighed exactly 63 pounds.

Next time you’re in LaGrange, drop by and see Donny and Will. Thank them for allowing Gene to weigh the fish so that we could add a giant catfish to GON’s Lake and River Records. Their number is 706.884.2830.

GON has compiled and keeps official records for most major lakes and rivers in Georgia. 

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