Nebraska brothers haul 113-pound catfish from river, but not without a struggle

Nebraska brothers haul 113-pound catfish from river, but not without a struggle

Outdoors

Nebraska brothers haul 113-pound catfish from river, but not without a struggle

Reece French, his wife Holli, and two of his brothers were checking their set line on the Missouri River late last month when they realized they had hauled up something truly monstrous.

Writhing on the hook was a blue catfish that would eventually tip the scale at 113 pounds, far heavier than the 48-year-old state record.

The behemoth measured 5-plus feet and was as round as a tree stump; there was no way it was going to fit inside their little net. So they devised a plan.

According to the Omaha World-Herald, Reece and brother Couy reached their arms into the gaping mouth of the catfish and hoisted it onto their boat. Their arms were scratched and Couy received a tail-slap to the face, but the plan worked.

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They delivered the catfish to shore, keeping it alive and in the water with a rope through its lip, and a crowd gathered.

“We had people coming from all over looking at it,’’ Reece said. “One person said, ‘I don’t know if I am going to swim in this river anymore.’ ”

Couy, Reece and Nick French pose with catfish. Photo: Holli French

The catfish weighed just over 113 pounds and measured 5 feet, 1 inch. The state rod-and-reel record, set in 1970, stands at 100 pounds, 8 ounces.

The French family thought the fish might be approved as a state record, but Nebraska Game and Parks does not recognize records for fish caught with set lines. (Set lines can be left unmanned for up to 24 hours.)

Reece said he would have set the free immediately had he known.

“It was still a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” he said.

It was kept alive in a Decatur marina before being donated to a nearby aquarium where, sadly, it died of an infection last Wednesday.

The catfish was believed to be 18 to 20 years old.

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