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Oconee’s New Flathead Record Takes An Hour To Net

It was a long, hard and hot battle, but Oconee's flathead catfish record was finally broken by more than 3 pounds.

Jordan Davis | September 15, 2016

Sam Collis, of Eatonton, broke the flathead catfish record at Lake Oconee with an almost 50-pounder he reeled in Friday, Sept. 9.

Sam had originally planned to put his boat in early that morning at Waterfront Marina in Lick Creek, but after some boat trouble, his fishing time was pushed back until after lunch.

Around 1 p.m., Sam was finally on the water and began fishing for bait, but he was having a hard time catching any shad in his cast net.

“Shad are hard to catch in the heat of the day,” said Sam. “You will throw your arm off trying to catch them during that time.”

After finally getting about 20 shad to use for bait, Sam began fishing specifically for a big catfish.

Sam Collis, of Eatonton, caught the new Lake Oconee flathead record on Sept. 9. The fish weighed 49-lbs., 1.28-ozs.

At 3 p.m., the big fish bit. Sam fought the big appaloosa catfish for more than an hour before finally getting the fish close enough to the boat to secure it in his dip net.

“It was certainly a long, hard and hot fight,” said Sam.

He knew he had a chance at breaking the Oconee lake record, which was 45-lbs., 12-ozs. That flathead catfish was caught by Claude Spires on April 16, 2013.

Sam immediately loaded his boat and headed for a certified scale. However, the scale bottomed out at his first stop, and his second weigh-in wasn’t official.

Sam would have to wait until Saturday morning to have the flathead officially weighed at Eatonton Co-Op Feed Company on Jefferson Avenue in Eatonton.

At 45 1/2 inches in length, Sam’s fish weighed 49-lbs., 1.28-ozs., beating the old flathead record by more than 3 pounds.

“All I fish for is the big ones, I don’t mess with the small ones,” said Sam. “I grew up on this lake and have fished it quite a lot.”

Georgia Outdoor News keeps and compiles Georgia’s official Lake and River Records, which are published each February in GON magazine. If you catch a fish you think might be a lake or river record, call GON at (800) 438-4663 or e-mail [email protected].

All potential record fish must be weighed on certified scales (tested by Ga. Dept. of Agriculture) for consideration, and for many species a verification by a fisheries biologist will be required.

GON’s Official Lake Oconee Record Fish

Largemouth Bass 12-lbs., 14-ozs. Bill Brantley 05/14/12
Hybrid Bass 14-lbs., 4-ozs. Jan Allen Ward 04/03/91
Striped Bass 29-lbs., 14.9-ozs. Fred Worthy 05/10/96
Black Crappie 3-lbs., 12-ozs. Edward Rhodes 02/10/97
Channel Catfish 34-lbs., 8-ozs. Jonathan Clifton 05/31/98
Blue Catfish 69-lbs., 7-ozs. Wayne Tatum 09/16/16
Flathead Catfish 52-lbs., 8-ozs. John Burnett 04/23/22
White Bass 3-lbs., 6-ozs. Tony Couch 04/02/93
Longnose Gar 20-lbs., 13-ozs. Dustin Turk 10/05/19
Chain Pickerel 1-lb., 2-ozs. Terry Brice 03/05/17
Spotted Bass 5-lbs., 3.2-ozs. Austin Skinner 03/19/22
Shellcracker 1-lb., 14.56-ozs. Randy Smith 04/23/22

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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