Sinclair Blue Cat Record Caught And Released

James Rowland said the big catfish ripped off 200 yards of line before he could turn the fish.

Mike Bolton | June 27, 2023

James Rowland (left) holds the record catfish with his longtime fishing buddy and best friend Freddie Cagle, who helped with netting the trophy blue catfish at Lake Sinclair.

About twice a month, James Rowland likes to go to Lake Sinclair with his fishing buddy so they can stock their freezers with good eating-size catfish.

The Hartwell native never imagined that he’d ever catch a single blue cat that would seemingly feed half of his hometown.

James is the new Lake Sinclair record holder for blue catfish with a 60-lb., 7.8-oz. monster. It was officially weighed on U.S. Postal scales.

“My buddy turned me onto this place,” James said of his friend, Freddie Cagle. “The first time we went, we caught over 200 pounds of catfish. We were catching them on catawba worms.

“The catawba worms aren’t in yet, so this time we decided to try some cut shad and live bream. We’d done pretty good. We had caught about 80 pounds of fish by 10:45 that night when they stopped generating power. We only fish when they generate current, so we were getting ready to leave when the big fish hit. This fish ran off about 200 yards of line. I didn’t think I was going to be able to stop him.

“I was using 20-lb. test Ande Monster Line with a 50-lb.-test leader. It was some battle.”

James, 46, said they were not fishing in the dam tailrace, where a lot catfish are caught.

“We were camping at Oconee Springs Park,” he said. “We were fishing about 500 yards from the campsite in the middle of the channel.”

Like many who catch record catfish, James learned that getting the fish in the net was not the toughest battle. Getting a fish that big weighed on official scales can be a problem.

“We went everywhere,” he said. “Grocery stores, meat markets. Nobody had scales that could weigh something that big.

“I have a big toolbox in the back of my truck that I have rigged with aeration to keep my catfish, so I put him in there with some ice and started looking. We finally found a post office in Bowman that said they could do it.

“The fish was quite a hit. Everybody was taking pictures. They couldn’t believe it.”

Jamie released the fish unharmed.

“Fish that big aren’t fit to eat,” he said. “We don’t keep anything bigger than 20 pounds.”

Jamie has a most unusual profession that allows him time twice a month to take the catfish excursions.

“I build indoor trampoline parks,” he said. “You know the ones that have the indoor climbing walls and things like that. Have you ever seen American Ninja Warrior on TV? That’s what I do.”

The Lake Sinclair record catfish is the biggest catfish that James has ever caught. He said he probably won’t catch another record because he doesn’t fish for big fish.

“We also fish on Santee Cooper, but that woman caught one there that was 113 pounds, so (breaking that record) is definitely out of the question,” he said.

The big blue was caught in the Oconee Springs Park area.


Lake Sinclair Record Fish

Largemouth Bass13-lbs., 2-ozs.Jimmy Edge02/10/90
Hybrid Bass10-lbs., 7-ozs.David Phillips11/27/98
Striped Bass42-lbs.Mike Wicks-
White Bass2-lbs., 7-ozs.James Borders Jr.07/12/92
Black Crappie2-lbs., 11.5-ozs.Brent Moye01/22/00
Channel Catfish21-lbs., 5-ozs.Kenny Durden05/02/07
Longnosed Gar15-lb., 3-ozs.Dustin Turk08/18/09
Flathead Catfish39-lbs.Tommy Spell07/19/22
Blue Catfish79-lbs., 8-ozs.Guy Covington04/27/2024
Yellow Perch15.04-ozs.Eric Phillips02/09/22
Spotted Bass3-lbs., 9.76-ozs.Larry Cason05/10/21
Warmouth12-ozs.Christopher Leverette02/22/23


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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