Allatoona Giant Blue Catfish Caught Near Sweetwater Campground

This fish was released and not officially weighed, but it was estimated to weigh over 60 pounds.

Brad Gill | April 30, 2020

A giant blue catfish was caught with a rod and reel on Tuesday, April 28 by Seth Shoults, of Cartersville. It was released alive without an official weight on certified scales.

“My hand-held scales max out at 60 pounds, and it bottomed it out,” said Seth. “I am guessing it was 63 to 65 pounds. I got the measurements on the fish because I wanted to get a replica made.”

Seth, who is 25 and has been fishing Allatoona since he was “in diapers,” said the fish was 46 inches long and 34 inches around. Seth found an online formula that takes length and girth to get a weight estimate, and it said the catfish could have been pushing as heavy as 70 pounds.

“It is a lot of fun when you catch those bigger ones on a rod and reel,” said Seth.

A fan of rod and reel, limb lines and jugging, Seth is knowledgeable with catching big cats, and plenty of them, on Lake Allatoona.

“I typically fish with cut gizzard shad, but sometimes I’ll use live threadfins for catching flatheads,” said Seth. “But usually it’s just cut gizzard shad or cut bluegill. We’ve caught some nice 20s and 30s. We caught 75 one week, and I think a quarter of them were above 15 to 20 pounds.”

Seth’s big blue from earlier this week was caught adjacent to Sweetwater Campground. He launched his boat from Fields Landing about 8:15 a.m. and tried some drift fishing in shallow areas with no luck. He decided to anchor up in a deeper spot about 10 a.m.

“I was anchored in the channel, and it was 25 maybe 30 feet deep,” said Seth. “I was using three rods. I cast two of them out to an area that was more of a flat that was probably closer to 10 or 15 feet, and the other one was in the channel behind me.”

It didn’t take long for Seth to realize his move to a deeper pattern was going to work. While he was on the phone, he got a bite. By the time he reached for the rod, the fish had never hooked up and was gone.

Seth’s blue catfish was estimated to weigh between 63 and 70 pounds.

“I use 4/0 circle hooks,” said Seth. “That’s a good mid-size for me to catch the smaller channels. It catches everything. I usually don’t have any issues as long as I hook the bait where the hook is showing. I know some people bury the hook in the shad and set the hook, but that hasn’t worked out as well for me.”

Seth said his gear is not super fancy, opting to leave his nicest stuff at home when fishing for catfish. Still, he uses some heavy-duty Abu Garcia rod/reel baitcaster combos that are more suited for saltwater fishing. He loads his reels with 12- to 20-lb. Trilene monofilament. The giant blue cat hit a rod rigged with 20-lb. test and a piece of cut gizzard shad.

“He slammed it,” said Seth. “There was no hesitation about it. He took off. The fight was a good 20, 25 minutes. Any of those above 30 pounds and it’s usually a good 15-minute fight. It scares you that they’ll pop the line, and you have other lines in the water and trying to work around everything.”

Seth was able to get the big blue in the boat where he’d make plans to meet his dad for a photo before releasing the fish back alive. However, Seth’s morning of fishing wasn’t over just yet.

“It was only maybe 10 minutes later when another one bit,” said Seth.

It was another giant catfish, similar in size to the one now in the boat! Like before, the fish took off, and a long, tiring battle played out before the fish was near the boat.

“I almost could have netted him, but right when I went to pull the rod back to come up and grab the line, the hook just popped right out of his mouth,” said Seth. “I think when I baited that hook, I had the circle hook buried into one or two of the scales, and I don’t think it ever set. Luckily I got him that far to see him. I think he was a little bit smaller than the other one.”

Seth said the big blue he was able to put in the boat was his biggest Allatoona cat to ever come on a rod and reel, but it’s not the biggest he’s seen from the north Georgia lake.

“On a jug about eight years ago, we had one that was in the 80s, I think,” said Seth. “We never got it in the boat. We got it right up to the net, and it started rolling in the line and just the weight of it snapped it. I was using some old 100-lb. catfish line.”

The current lake record blue catfish from Allatoona is a 43-lb., 9.6-oz. fish caught in 2017. Seth’s fish would have smashed that record if it would have been weighed on certified scales.

“Records just aren’t really my thing. I fish just for the fun of it,” said Seth.

Seth did add that after talking with GON for this article that there’s a good chance he’s going to try and get his name in the record listing.

GON has compiled and keeps records for most major lakes and rivers in Georgia. See all the official Georgia Lake & River Records here.


Seth said his blue catfish ate a piece of cut gizzard shad in 10 to 15 feet of water.

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  1. Dawgfish66 on April 30, 2020 at 9:34 pm

    So he loaded up and hauled it home for pics, but it was released alive? He must have a really large live well.

    • ron.huseby on May 1, 2020 at 9:44 am

      says he called his dad to meet him & cats can survive several hours out of the water…

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