Fishing solo with his dog Daisy on the Kanawha River in West Virginia, Steven Price discovered phoning friends while fishing has its rewards…in the form of good luck.
Price hooked into a big flathead catfish and had been fighting it for five minutes when the fish went into a snag and broke him off. He told Metro News he thought the fish weighed 40 to 50 pounds.
Feeling dejected, he phoned his longtime fishing partner Marcus MacDonald.
“I…told him what happened, and how I was a little bummed out,” he told Field and Stream. “But I said, ‘Okay, before I move to the next spot, I’m gonna re-rig these rods and give it another 15 minutes.’ I put my rods back out and pretty soon one bent. As soon as I picked it up, I could tell it was another really big fish.”
Sure enough, he hooked into a big blue catfish, fought it, netted it, removed the handle from the net to weigh the fish and then released the catfish. The fish was a personal-best 56-pounder.
“I was thinking, man what a day,” he told Metro News.
Excited about the catch, Price began phoning friends to tell them about his catch, and saying “this may be the biggest fish I catch all year.”
He was on the line with one friend when his rod bent again, indicating another fish.
“I pick it up, and I’m instantly fighting it,” Price told Field and Stream. “It’s another big one. Now, this doesn’t even seem real anymore. This is one of those days everybody dreams of happening.”
When he got a glimpse of it in the water, he recognized it was a blue catfish and that it was bigger than the previous catch.
“That first [one] was 56 pounds and it was close to the record, I was thinking this might really be the record,” Price told Metro News. “It really set in when I went to lift it up over the side of the boat. I remember thinking this is a really, really heavy fish.”
Of course, to lift it over the side of the boat he had to net it first, and he had forgotten to reattach the handle.
“So, I was sitting there holding on to this fish with one arm and reaching back to assemble the net with the other,” he told Field and Stream.
Fortunately, he managed to reconnect the handle, net the blue catfish and haul it into the boat. His scale pushed over 70 pounds, including the net.
“I set him down and said, that’s definitely the state record,” he told Metro News.
A friend put him in touch with West Virginia Department of Natural Resources Biologist Ryan Bosserman, who certified the catch as a state record. It weighed 67.22 pounds. It also set the state record for length at 50.7 inches.
The previous record was 59.74 pounds caught on the Kanawha River by Cody Carver only seven weeks before. The previous length record was 50.15 inches set by Justin Goode last year.
After the record was confirmed, Price released the fish back into the river.
“You can’t ask for a better trip,” Price told Metro News. “Days like that are what we dream about.”
Photos of the record blue catfish courtesy of the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources.