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"He stayed right along the bank and right along the bottom," Couch said, similar to carp he has landed in the past. "When his tail finally came up — that's when I realized what he was." "
On the bank, someone with Couch screamed, "That's a record! That's a record." And it was. Couch's fish outweighs the previous 72-lb., 8-oz. record flathead catfish caught by Ron Cantrell in 2004 at El Reno Lake.
Couch was fishing the old Poteau River channel below the Wister Dam when he landed his state record. He was not having much luck using night crawlers, so he switched to red worms and caught the fish just after 1 p.m. The catfish measured 51 1/2" in length and had a girth of 58 1/4."
Couch was using a Ambassadeur 5000 reel on a Master Spector 10' graphite rod. His 20 lb. test line was rigged with a 2-0 Eagle Claw hook.
Couch said he has never had a fish fight on the line quite like his record fish — or like a catfish in general, which is one reason he recommends catfish angling to other sportsmen. Couch is an avid catfish angler, and he said "anytime the barometer is rising" is a good time to be casting for catfish. Flathead catfish are popular among Oklahoma anglers, as are channel catfish and blue catfish. All three catfish are readily available in the state's lakes, ponds and rivers, and they can be caught using a variety of methods, including rod and reel, trotlining, juglining, limblining and noodling. "
Couch had initially considered donating the fish to an aquarium facility, but it died before he found a location that would accept it. He and friends decided to eat the fish and have already sampled the meat. Don Groom, southeast region fisheries biologist for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, verified the fish for the Wildlife Department.
"Poteau River is known for producing large flatheads," Groom said. "This is a great fish, and we congratulate him for his catch." Couch's flathead catfish also qualifies as a lake record for Wister Lake. To view other lake record fish, log on to the Wildlife Department's Web site at wildlifedepartment.com. "
For a complete list of record fish and the procedures regarding certifying state record fish, consult the current "Oklahoma Fishing Guide" or log on to wildlifedepartment.com. Anglers who believe they may have hooked a record fish must weigh the fish on an Oklahoma State Department of Agriculture certified scale, and the weight must be verified by a Wildlife Department employee.
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