The massive flathead catfish coulda, woulda, shoulda been the new state record in Arizona, but we’ll never know for certain.
What can be confirmed is that the fish tasted delicious, though.
Last week, Steve Cooper and Mark Henry got together at one of their favorite fishing holes in Parker, Arizona. The men had been planning the trip for more than a month, and it was off to a great start with a cooler full of bass, catfish, and panfish on ice and ready for a family fish fry.
According to ABC 15 News, Cooper reportedly had a live bluegill on the line for bait and was hoping to catch some more catfish. That’s when he hooked into something huge.
“I fought him for a good half an hour, ya I fought for a good half an hour, and he got my blood racing several times.
It’s turning out to be the biggest catch of my life, bro.”
When he finally landed the fish, it almost seemed too big to be true.
“We’ve been catching big fish at that place] a long time, but I think this one set the family record.”
The huge flathead might have been more than just the family record. There’s a good chance it was the state record as well.
“We know we’re going to catch something, but I didn’t know Moby Dick was coming up.
Right before you land him, a lot of things could go wrong, right, and I didn’t want to be that guy telling the story; he broke the line right there.”
The fish didn’t break the line though, and this isn’t a story about the one that got away.
The catfish was more than 3-feet long, and it weighed between 79-80 pounds on each of the several scales they weighed it with. The Arizona state record for flathead catfish is 76-pounds.
“We weighed it about three times, fresh out the water, and we weighed it again on a different buddy’s scale.
Put it on the scale, and it said seventy-nine, eighty, seventy-nine, eighty.”
Because they had so many family members in town who were hungry for fried fish, they reportedly prioritized cooking the big cat instead of getting it weighed and verified according to state record book rules.
“We didn’t get it certified, but it’s fine with us.
We just want to have a good time and eat some good catfish, that’s all.”
Cooper and Henry said the fishing hole where they caught the fish has a special meaning to their family, and they’ve been fishing that water for 3-generations after Cooper’s father drove past it and decided to stop and fishing during one of his routes as a trucker more than three decades ago.
“He was driving tractor-trailers through there, and he saw all the water, so one trip he took a rod with him, he caught fish. I’ve been going down there since I was knee-high to a duck.
We’ve been going ever since to carry his legacy out.”