Danny Taylor always told people there were really big catfish in the Chowan River and on Sunday he proved it, landing a massive blue catfish despite breaking the large net he had just purchased for this very moment.
Fishing alone in his 14-foot boat, Taylor landed an 82.2-pound blue catfish that stretched 56 inches to win the Chowan Catfish Challenge Tournament, a catch-and-release event held out of Tunis Landing in Winton, N.C., The Chowan Herald reported Thursday.
“I couldn’t believe how big it was,” John Kellett, tournament director and owner of Tunis Landing, told the Herald.
“If it wasn’t so skinny it would have been a 100-pound fish.”
The Chowan Herald said it might have been the biggest catfish ever caught in the Chowan River.
Taylor, 47, opted to fish in the deep waters of the river rather than pick a quiet and safer cove like other anglers. Using cut brim and white perch for bait, Taylor hooked up within 30 minutes of his first cast.
Taylor told BNQT Outdoors it took him 18 minutes to get to the catfish to the boat where he attempted to net it, which proved futile.
“I went a couple of weeks ago and bought a real big landing net, but I didn’t buy one quite big enough because she wouldn’t go in it and I broke it trying to catch it,” he explained to BNQT.
“When I couldn’t get her in the net, I threw the net in the bottom of the boat and grabbed the lower lip with my left hand, got a good grip on her, laid my pole down and reached with my right hand and grabbed it. I just leaned back in the boat and pulled it over the side of the boat with both hands. Both of us landed in the boat with her on top of me.”
Taylor looked at the massive catfish and felt “the biggest relief and the biggest joy you can imagine.”
He immediately returned to the landing, had the fish weighed and measured, and put it into a holding tank from where it was later released back into the river.
Taylor won $200 for winning the tournament. He’s won the last three he’s entered, winning the others with catfish weighing 56 pounds and 40 pounds.
“It was unbelievable,” Taylor told BNQT. “I knew there were big fish in that river. Everybody thought I was joking, but now they’ll believe me. That river is one heck of a fishery.
“We catch a lot of [catfish] in the thirties and forties in that river, and even some fifties and bigger, but one that big—that ain’t never been seen coming out of there.”
Photos by © Steve Grzanka used with permission.