Oconee Flathead Record Breaks 50 Pounds

Chris McDaniel lost a cell phone trying to get this monster catfish in the boat, but he set a new record with his 51-lb., 12-oz. flathead.

Brad Gill | May 13, 2020

On the afternoon of May 12, Chris McDaniel, of Morgan County, was busy setting up a brand new cell-phone, a direct result of catching a brand-new Lake Oconee flathead catfish record that weighed 51-lbs., 12-ozs. on certified scales.

“I bent over to pick the fish up out of the water, and it went right out of my pocket into the water,” said Chris about his previous cell phone.

Chis said the big flathead bit about 11 a.m. on May 11, 2020 while he was fishing from their boat with his wife Sofia and their 5-year-old son Grantly.

“We were drifting, fishing on the side of the channel between the 278 bridge and Redlands, and he hit the pole, and thank goodness I had the drag set,” said Chris.

Chris, Sofia and 5-year-old Grantly McDaniel with the new lake record flathead catfish from Lake Oconee.

Chris was fishing a piece cut gizzard shad in 20 to 25 feet of water using a Carolina-rig with an egg sinker, a 2-foot leader and a large circle hook.

“When I was reeling him in, it was just like I was hooked on a log until he surfaced, and once he surfaced, he went right back to where he was. He wore me out,” said Chris.

When the fish was finally at the side of the boat was when Chris said good-bye to his cell phone.

“I am like, ‘Well it’s done,’” said Chris.

Chris began digging for some rope to tie the flathead off to the side of the boat and keep it alive until they got home. However, Sofia was stewing about the deployed phone.

“My wife was like, ‘No, we’re getting it, we’re going to find it.’ I look over and she’s jumping in the water. We were in 6 feet of water at that point,” said Chris.

Sofia admits she doesn’t like losing things.

“I don’t like wasting money, so I was getting that phone,” she said. “But the worst thing was that by the time he had hauled the fish in the boat, he had tied if off with that rope and slung it back in the water without telling me. So I go under the water and I see that fish, and I was done. I tried.”

The fish still needed to be certified, and they were able to connect with WRD Fisheries Technician Wes Beard, who has worked at the Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center since 2005. Wes verified the species as a flathead and that it weighed 51-lbs., 12-ozs. on WRD’s certified scales.

It breaks the previous Oconee flathead record of 49-lbs., 1.28-ozs. caught in 2016 by Sam Collis.

GON’s Official Oconee River Record Fish

Largemouth Bass12-lbs., 14-ozs.Bill Brantley05/14/12
Hybrid Bass14-lbs., 4-ozs.Jan Allen Ward04/03/91
Striped Bass29-lbs., 14.9-ozs.Fred Worthy05/10/96
Black Crappie3-lbs., 12-ozs.Edward Rhodes02/10/97
Channel Catfish34-lbs., 8-ozs.Jonathan Clifton05/31/98
Blue Catfish70-lbs., 2-ozs.Koob Moua03/22/23
Flathead Catfish62-lbs., 10.4-ozs.Rob Allgood03/11/23
White Bass3-lbs., 6-ozs.Tony Couch04/02/93
Longnose Gar20-lbs., 13-ozs.Dustin Turk10/05/19
Chain Pickerel1-lb., 2-ozs.Terry Brice03/05/17
Spotted Bass5-lbs., 3.2-ozs.Austin Skinner03/19/22
Shellcracker1-lb., 14.56-ozs.Randy Smith04/23/22
Yellow Perch11-ozs.John Moore02/16/23

See all of GON’s official Georgia Lake & River Records here.


Requirements For Record Fish

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

• Catch must be weighed on accurate Georgia DOA certified scales with at least two witnesses present, who must be willing to provide their names and phone numbers so they can be contacted to verify the weighing of the fish.

• 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’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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