87-pound blue catfish
breaks state record
Rusty Keeton of Ardmore landed a new state record
87-pound, 4-ounce blue catfish March 16 from Lake Texoma. Courtesy
Some would argue that catching a record fish is all skill and
others would say it is all luck, but maybe it has a whole lot
more to do with just getting out and going fishing.
"I never dreamed I would catch a record
fish," said Rusty Keeton, the newest addition to Oklahoma's
fishing record book. "I just wanted to enjoy a nice day
outdoors and do a little fishing on Texoma."
Keeton, of Ardmore, got more than he bargained
for when he hooked an 87-pound, 4-ounce blue catfish near Briar
Creek on the southcentral Oklahoma reservoir. His trip, on Sunday,
March 16, quickly went from a relaxing morning on the water to
an adrenaline-charging, muscle-aching day that he won't soon
"He hit it just like any other catfish,
but when I hooked him he came right to the surface. I couldn't
believe it. I had never seen a fish like that before," Keeton
The big blue hit on shad gizzards, but
wasn't going to come to the boat easily. Unfortunately, Keeton
was a bit under matched for the fight.
"I have some better rod and reels,
but I hooked it on a little cheap rod and reel combo. I had 25-pound
test, which seems pretty strong until you hook a fish like that,"
He fought the fish for 30 minutes, but
he said it felt more like three or four hours.
"My arms still hurt. It was like trying
to reel in a huge tree stump off the bottom of the lake,"
Now the hard part, he had brought the brute
to the side of the boat, but without a net, he was in a quandary
as to how to get it into the boat. He made several attempts and
it finally came down to crunch time.
"I finally said to myself, 'This is
it, this fish is either coming out the lake or I am going in'
I just grabbed what I could and somehow rolled him into the boat,"
His first instinct was to let the fish
go. Keeton only keeps a few fish each year to eat and releases
all the largest fish.
"I was going to put him back in the
water, but I thought I better find out what the state record
is," Keeton said.
He called his wife who looked up the length
of the previous blue catfish record.
"When it measured longer than the
state record, I knew I had better get it weighed," Keeton
He contacted Randel Currie, southcentral
region fisheries technician for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife
Conservation. The fish was weighed on certified scales at the
Department's regional office in Caddo. The huge fish weighed
87 pounds, 4 ounces and was 53 inches long. The girth was 35
One of the best parts of the story is that the magnificent fish
is alive and well at the Department's Durant Fish Hatchery.
"I am so grateful to Randel Currie for saving that fish,"
Keeton said. "It wasn't in the best shape, but Randel knew
just what to do to keep it alive. I am so glad it has made it."
Department fisheries personnel are planning to transport the
record blue to the Oklahoma Aquarium in Jenks where it will be
available for the public to view.
The previous blue catfish record of 85
pounds, 4 ounces was set by Dale Dennis who pulled the big blue
catfish from Lake Ellsworth in December of 1999.
For a complete list of record fish and the procedures regarding
certifying state record fish, consult the "2003 Oklahoma
Fishing Guide". If you think you may have hooked a record
fish it is important that you weigh the fish on an Oklahoma State
Department of Agriculture certified scale and the weight is verified
by a Wildlife Department employee.
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