Altamaha Produces 85-lb. Catfish!

The fish, caught on a limb line, would have broken the state rod-and-reel record by almost 20 pounds.

GON Staff | April 7, 2006

The 85-lb. catfish was hooked on a limb line set by Billy Maddox (left) and Clay McDaniel, both of Thomaston. These catfishermen have a freezer full of flathead fillets after traveling from their home waters along the Flint River .. also great catfish water .. to try their luck on the Altamaha.

The “Home of the Monster Cats” has done it again… the Altamaha River in the Jesup area has yielded another monster catfish.

Already home to the heaviest flathead catfish ever caught on rod and reel in Georgia, a 67 1/2-pounder wrestled to the side of a boat by Gene Middleton in 2000, the Altamaha last month produced an 85-lb. giant that was caught on a limb line.

Billy Maddox and Clay McDaniel headed to the Jesup area from their hometown of Thomaston. Clay said the 85-lb. catfish was caught on a line set in 15 feet of water that bordered a 23-foot-deep hole. The hole was thick with submerged timber, he said.

“We were using limb lines with 9/0 saltwater hooks, 8-oz. sinkers and large live bream as bait,” Clay said. “We were fishing several miles downriver from Jaycees Landing. We only landed one other fish, a 5-lb. flathead. The dropping river level seemed to slow the bite.”

Clay said that the experience left them with two humorous phrases: “What am I supposed to do with THIS net? — When you realize that you have greatly underestimated the size requirements of the landing net you brought.”

And, “Is it still alive? — For that moment just before you realize that the stillness of an 85-lb. catfish that has been patiently tied to a tree has been taking a power nap rather than an admission of defeat.”

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