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NEWS: Giant Blue Catfish from Nickajack

David Anderson would have never guessed what he was about to catch while heading out for a solo night of fishing.

Anderson shared, “Fishing is more than catching for me. It’s my church. It’s my go-to place. It’s my get-away, where I gather my thoughts.”
Setting out for a calm night on the water with his 7-medium action, Shakespeare Fishing rod with a Quantum Fishing HD 40 spinning reel, equipped with a 12-pound Berkley Fishing monofilament line. His hook was a number 2, octopus circle, baited with a nightcrawler. Settling on the bank of Suck Creek on Nickajack Reservoir, he thought he might land something, like the 60-pound catfish he hooked Memorial Day weekend.

Anderson’s pole was lodged into the rocks. With his pole lodged securely in the rocks, around 11:45 p.m. he watched the pole torn from its stronghold. He stated, “It didn’t bump or tug, but literally was jerked out. I grabbed it, leaned back and let the drag out.” Knowing he had something big, he went on Facebook Live. Many friends joked with him to just “pull the fish in”.
After a long hour, the fish was closer to the bank. Anderson went into deeper water with his net, hoping to scoop the fish. He continued, “I saw it roll and I saw the tail fan. I was in disbelief. I put the net under the fish, and it dropped its head and bent the net.”

“It was like I was walking a dog and then it would walk me!” Finally, in shallow water, Anderson was able to better manage the net. As he tried again to scoop the fish, the net broke completely. “I was not going to let this fish get away after the fight and I gathered both net and fish and took them to the bank,” said Anderson.

No stranger to heavy lifting, Anderson knew the fish weighed around a hundred pounds. Anderson shared, “I stood there catching my breath thinking, this is unreal, and THIS just happened!” Anderson took a few photos. Knowing he could be close to the state record of 112 pounds set by Robert E. Lewis on the Cumberland River in 1998, Anderson took rope and secured the fish for the night. He commented, “I thought it was close to 100 pounds, but after the fight, I was tired and didn’t trust my judgement. I tied him off.”

Anderson reached out to TWRA early and looked for certified scales. A friend brought a certified scale, early Sunday morning and the blue cat weighed in at 103 pounds. “At this point, I just wanted to let it go. You just don’t see them this big and I was concerned,” stated Anderson. He released it.

Although catfish growth rates are variable across Tennessee reservoirs, Mike Jolley, Region III Reservoir Fisheries biologist stated, “A catfish this size would be at least 25 years old.”

Fishing is a favorite activity for Anderson who’s been fishing for 38 years. He shares this love with his nine-year-old son Avery. Anderson shared, “If you want your kids to talk with you, take them fishing. Fishing opens another door of communication for families and kids. It brings friends and families closer together.”

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