Oconee River Blue Cat Record Broken By 10-Year-Old

Mike Bolton | May 6, 2022

If the 5th-grade class at Morgan Elementary School in Madison had show-and-tell a few weeks back, Zackary Mashburn was undoubtedly the winner.

The 10-year-old caught the largest blue catfish—38-lbs., 11.52-ozs.–to ever come from the Oconee River below Lake Sinclair. He caught it on April 24.

Zackary Mashburn was one happy 10-year-old after setting the new Oconee River record for blue catfish.

“It took me 15 minutes to get him in,” the young man said. “I told all my friends about it.”

Zackary and his dad, Ryan Mashburn, were fishing the Lake Sinclair tailrace in Milledgeville when they had a memorable day of fishing.

“We caught our bait and started fishing,” Zackary’s dad, said. “We had already caught one that was 30 pounds and another that was 30-lbs., 8-ozs. when Zackary caught his.

“He started reeling and said, ‘Dad, I think you are going to have to help me on this one.’

“I told him that I couldn’t help him. I told him he was on his own. He finally got it in after about 15 minutes.”

The fish was weighed on certified scales by Ed Prior at Apalachee Farms.

The day after Zackary broke the record, we got an email from Allen Rawls. He said, “Here are some of the pictures I have from the 37-lb. blue cat (from the Oconee River) I caught yesterday, Monday April 25. All the pictures attached are of the 37-lb. fish except the one picture of a 28-pounder my wife, Hannah, caught. 

Allen Rawls with what would have been the new Oconee River blue cat record.

“We went fishing to catch fish for a church fish fry in a couple weeks and started off slow. We were worried if we would catch enough fish to feed everyone until we caught the catfish. We got there at daylight and fished for about an hour and a half for bream and only caught five. We then moved spots to try to catch some catfish. All the catfish were caught on cutbait and were caught within 50 yards of each other.”

Allen had the fish weighed officially at Duckworth Farm Supply in Milledgeville.

We had to let Allen down that a 10-year-old had just set a new blue cat benchmark the previous day. Even though Allen’s fish was just a pound shy of the new record, he said he was real proud for the young man who caught the slightly heavier catfish.

The previous Oconee River blue cat record was a 33 1/2-pounder caught in 2020.

Hannah Rawls with a 28-lb. Oconee River blue cat.

Oconee River Records

Largemouth Bass 10-lbs., 3.2-ozs. Tracey Jackson 03/26/17
Channel Catfish 32-lbs., 6-ozs. Rick Leitheiser 04/07/96
Flathead Catfish 62-lbs. Brian Estes 06/13/99
Striped Bass 63-lbs.* Kelly Ward 05/30/67
Black Crappie 1-lb., 9-ozs. Duke Campbell Jr. 04/01/06
Bluegill 1-lb., 8-ozs. Duke Campbell Jr. 03/31/15
Shellcracker 1-lb., 13-ozs. Ben Bell 05/29/22
Blue Catfish 43-lbs., 2-ozs. Brandon Watts 07/09/22
Bowfin 5-lbs., 2.4-ozs. Shannon Campbell 03/13/21

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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