88 Pound Clarks Hill Flathead!
If caught on a rod and reel, this fish would have beaten the current state record by 5 pounds.
A flathead catfish weighing 88 pounds on certified scales was recently caught from Clarks Hill Lake by Blake White, of Keysville. The fish was caught on a bush hook and can’t be recognized as either a state or lake record. However, it’s a giant fish that GON is excited to share.
“I told my wife that being good country folks, us making the GON is more important than anything else. That’s what I look forward to,” said Blake, who was featured in GON magazine in July 2016 with a 71-lb. flathead caught on a bush hook.
In that article four years ago, Blake was quoted as saying, “I will probably never catch another fish like this one. It is truly a fish of a lifetime.”
While a 71-lb. flathead is a bigger catfish than 99%+ anglers will ever catch, Blake reset his personal bar to 88 pounds on the morning of June 28 after setting out 28 bush hooks the afternoon before in a cove up the Little River-Georgia side of the lake.
“I look for deep banks that have a good slope on them that slope down to a deep spot, they like coming up on those banks and feeding on those panfish,” said Blake.
Blake once had 150-lb. braided cord snapped by a fish, so now he uses 250-lb. cord tied to a limb.
“I usually tie to willow trees because it’s about the greenest thing out there, it’s not going to break,” said Blake. “It’s funny, my cousin (Jeremy Pruitt) who was with me was picking on my limb that I tied. He said, ‘Is that going to hold?’ I said, ‘Yeah that’s going to hold.’ And that’s the one we caught the big one on. The smallest limb caught the 88-pounder.”
Blake then takes a bream a little smaller than hand-sized and hooks it on either an 8/0 or 9/0 circle hook.
“I watched a video of a guy who hooks his through the nose, and he had better luck that way keeping his bait alive, so that is what we did this time. They seemed to stay alive a lot longer,” said Blake.
The next morning, Blake and Jeremy made their run to collect catfish. Out of 28 lines, they only had four fish. However, they yielded 188 pounds of catfish with fish that weighed 88, 65, 20 and 15 pounds.
“We were trying to pull up one of the smaller ones, and Jeremy saw a whole tree go in the water, and he said ‘Man, we got a bigger one,’ so we left the smaller one and got to the bigger one first. He took big chunks of meat out of my hand trying to hold that rope. It was fun. It was an adrenaline rush.”
Even though Blake knew the 88-pounder didn’t qualify for any sort of record, he still wanted to know what the fish weighed on certified scales. He ended up at Happy Valley Meat Market on Highway 17 between Thomson and Wrens, the same store where he had his 71-pounder weighed in 2016. After that, it was time to get the knives and load up the freezer.
“I chunk them into 1-inch nuggets,” said Blake. “Everyone says you can’t eat them when they are that big. I’ve seen people try to cook a 3-inch piece of fish. That’s too thick, you can’t cook that. It’s not going to taste good.”
Blake said he wished he’d caught the 88-pounder on a rod and reel, which would have beaten the state rod-and-reel record, a record shared by Carl Sawyer and Jim Dieveney. Both of their cats weighed 83 pounds and came from the Altamaha River.
“I have been thinking about going up there with my fishing pole in that cove and fishing all night and see if I can’t catch one,” said Blake.
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