Monster 67 1/2-Pound Blue Catfish Breaks 26-Year-Old Georgia State Record

GON Staff | May 31, 2006

James Tyus with the new state-record blue catfish. The fish weighed 67-lbs, 8-ozs., breaking the state record by 5 1/2 pounds.

A four-foot-long blue catfish caught from the Chattahoochee River below the Columbia Lock & Dam has broken a state record that has stood for more than 26 years.

On April 1, 2006, James Tyus of Brinson and his brother Eric went to the Lake Andrew tailrace to try out the fishing.

“A buddy had told me that they catch some big catfish there,” said James. “I had never been there before that night.”

James and Eric were fishing live shad on baitcasting tackle and 15-lb. line, and they had boated seven or eight hybrid bass. At about 9 p.m. the big catfish hit James’ bait.

“We had baitrunners on and mine started clicking faster and faster,” said James. “When I set the hook, he took off running, and I knew it was a good catfish. Then when I set the hook, I knew it was a real good catfish. I got my brother to get all the other rods in.”

The fish came up and rolled on the surface, and Eric got a look at it.
“Man it’s a catfish!” he said.

James set in for a long siege with the fish.

“I let him wear himself out,” he said. “I had my drag set loose, and I wasn’t going to horse him in.”

Between 45 minutes and an hour later, the big fish played out, but James did not have a net big enough to land the blue monster.

“I had to stick my hand in his mouth to get him,” said James. “Then me and my brother pulled him into the boat — and when he came in, he hit me in the head with his tail.”

James was unaware that he had a potential state record blue in the boat.
“I was going to make fish steaks out of him,” he said. “But when I was taking him to the cleaning table my son said we needed to get him weighed.”

The fish was first weighed on feed scales and registered 66 pounds, well over the state record of 62 pounds.

“We got in touch with Terri Jones, the game warden, and Terri said that we needed to get the fish weighed on certified scales,” said James.

Cpl. Terri Jones and James’ wife took the fish to certified scales at T&L Sea Products in Bainbridge, where the fish officially weighed 67-lbs., 8-ozs. — 5 1/2 pounds above the state record.

The previous state record blue cat was caught from Lake Clarks Hill by Ralph Barbee Jr. in September, 1979.

James’ fish was identified as a blue catfish at the Albany Wildlife Resources Division, Fisheries Section office.

“They brought the fish by here in a hot tub in a truck, and it was still alive,” said Fisheries Region Supervisor Rob Weller. “We identified it, and then they took it to the Albany aquarium. The aquarium tried to keep it alive, but it was apparently too much stress, and the fish died.”

After review by the state Fisheries headquarters, James’ fish was certified as Georgia’s new state-record blue catfish.

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