Fort Valley, Georgia - The Ocmulgee River has monsters –
monster catfish that is! A 103-lbs. flathead catfish was caught by
Mr. Tom Head, age 76, near Warner Robins earlier this week, according
to fisheries personnel with the Georgia Department of Natural
Resources, Wildlife Resources Division. The fish was more than 57
inches long and greater than 41 inches in girth. The head itself was
almost 16 inches wide.
it a new state record? No. Even though this fish beats the current
flathead catfish state record weight by 20 pounds, it was caught
using a method called “jug fishing” that is not considered eligible
for state record status. To be eligible, it must be landed using
sport fishing tackle. Bush hooks, trot lines, jugs, baskets, nets,
etc., while popular methods of fishing, are not considered sporting
Flathead catfish have a flattened head, yellowish mottled with brown
and green coloring, small eyes and a lower jaw that extends beyond
the upper jaw and an unforked tail.
For anglers trying to land a large flathead, heavy tackle is a must –
large spinning or casting tackle with at least 20 to 50-pound test
line with heavy weights to keep bait on the bottom. Recommended
flathead baits are live goldfish, bream and shiners. Mr. Head was
using a live bream on a tuna hook when this flathead was caught.
Anglers fishing rivers during the day should target deep holes
containing rock or woody structures. During dusk, dawn and at night,
anglers should concentrate on shallow sandbars and shoals nearby the
deep holes fished during the day.
Though most species of catfish are active throughout the day, the
best summer fishing is at dusk and during the night. The best time of
the year to fish for all catfish species is from early spring through
the fall, with a peak in the summer.
Flathead catfish are a non-native fish to the Ocmulgee River. This
species continues to suppress native bullhead and redbreast
populations in the river. Unauthorized release of flathead catfish or
any other fish species into public waters is illegal in the state of
Georgia and violators can be prosecuted.
The Ocmulgee River flows from the piedmont region of Georgia below
Lake Jackson to Macon, then winds southeast through the upper coastal
plain where it joins the Altamaha River east of Lumber City. It is
considered a great river for canoeing and fishing.