Giant 72-Pound Clarks Hill Blue Cat Shatters 45-Year Record

When 16-year-old Walker Crowe isn’t riding bulls, he’s fishing.

Mike Bolton | May 14, 2024

Walker Crowe caught a Clarks Hill lake record 72-lb., 3-oz. blue cat that broke the lake record of 62 pounds caught by Ralph Barbee in 1979.

You would have to consider it quite unusual if a 45-year-old lake fishing record was shattered by someone fishing from the bank in a community fishing hole that everyone knows about.

Well, Walker Crowe is a quite unusual 16-year-old.

While others his age are playing video games and worrying about teenage anxieties, Walker is dominating catfish tournaments and riding bulls. And maybe most unusual for any teenager, he has patience.

The Hartwell resident caught a Clarks Hill lake record 72-lb., 3-oz. blue cat that broke the lake record of 62 pounds caught by Ralph Barbee in 1979. It also surpassed Walker’s personal best by almost 30 pounds.

“I started fishing with my Paw Paw (grandfather) when I was 2 or 3,” the home-schooled youngster said. “There has never been a time since I haven’t loved it. Clarks Hill is about 45 minutes away from my house, but I try to go fishing there at least once a week. I’ve been fishing there my whole life.”

On Tuesday, May 7, Walker went to the lake for a little afternoon fishing. It turned out to be a trip like no other.

“I got off work and I went to the river without my boat,” he said. “I went to a community fishing hole that everyone knows about. It’s a long stretch of shallow water with this one deep hole in it. It’s really good when the lake gets muddy, and it was muddy that day.

“It’s a place that has been really good to me through the years.

“I took four rods and some bream for bait. I cast the bream into the deep hole and waited.”

Walker said you must be patient to fish there, but catfish will eventually leave the shallow water to check out the deep hole.

“I was there about 45 minutes,” he said. “At first, I noticed my rod tip twitching a little bit, then the rod bent double. I grabbed the rod and set the hook, and the fish about dragged me in. I knew I better loosen the drag. The fish started dragging out line and almost spooled me. I fought him for about 20 minutes, and I finally got him to the bank. I saw that he was barely hooked. I jammed my hand down his throat and got the other hand under his belly and got him in.”

Walker was using Mad Katz 30-lb. test line. The big catfish was taken to Ace Hardware in Royston to be weighed on certified scales.

Walker said the one happiest about the record fish was probably his Paw Paw who taught him to fish.

“He was smiling from ear-to-ear,” Walker said.  “He was so happy for me.”

Walker won seven catfish tournaments from his boat last year. He said fishing is his favorite hobby with riding bulls in rodeos a close second.

“Riding bulls and fishing is about all I do,” he said.

GON’s Official Clarks Hill Lake Record Fish

Largemouth Bass14-lbs., 14-ozs.Carl Sasser02/16/72
Spotted Bass5-lbs., 7.2-ozs.Tanner Hadden04/23/2404/23/24
White Bass3-lbs., 9-ozs.Ed Lepley03/09/15
Striped Bass55-lbs., 12-ozs.Sam Porter05/27/93
Hybrid Bass16-lbs., 12-ozs.Jim Hankinson-----
Black Crappie4-lbs., 8-ozs.Dewey Marks1979
White Crappie4-lbs., 12-ozs.Weldon Clark03/30/06
Blue Catfish72-lbs., 3-ozs.Walker Crowe05/07/24
Flathead Catfish70-lbs.Michael Dollar03/04/23
Channel Catfish25-lbs., 2-ozs.James Gunn05/13/93
Yellow Perch2-lbs., 8-ozs.Brad Murphy12/89
Sauger4-lbs., 3-ozs.Stuart Bowers04/05/86
Warmouth13-ozs.Daniel Rawlins04/15/01
White Perch1-lb., 4-ozs.Dennis Franklin02/22/15
Shellcracker1-lb., 9-ozs.Kathleen Weeks06/23/11


Catch A Lake or River Record? Requirements For Record Fish

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

• Catch must be weighed on accurate Georgia DOA certified scales with at least two witnesses present.

• 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 can correspond with DNR when high-quality, multiple photos are taken of the fish and emailed to GON. All record submissions and photos must be sent to [email protected].

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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