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State Record Flathead
at El Reno Lake
Cantrell of El Reno, pulled in a 72-pound, 8-ounce flathead catfish
from El Reno Lake. The new state record fish was transported
to the Oklahoma Aquarium in Jenks. It is hoped that the fish
will be on display in coming weeks.
Cantrell, granddaughter of angler Ron Cantrell, sizes up the
new state record flathead catfish. Asialynn enjoys going fishing
with her grandpa, but she prefers fishing for sunfish rather
than huge flatheads.
May 27, 2004 - Admittedly,
state record fish are sometimes caught by accident. Occasionally
fortune smiles on some lucky angler, like the fisherman who recently
caught a state record walleye while catfishing or the state record
smallmouth buffalo that was caught while the angler was fishing
for walleye last year.
However, more often than not,
skilled and knowledgeable anglers catch record fish. Ron "Barefoot"
Cantrell of El Reno is the perfect example. He now holds the
state rod and line record for flathead catfish with a 72-pound,
8-ounce brute of a fish he caught from El Reno Lake.
"I've met a lot of catfishermen
over the years and he is the best one I know," said Ron
Comer, state game warden stationed in Canadian County. "It
doesn't surprise me one bit he broke the record."
Cantrell uses a refined technique
of catfishing, which incorporates a balloon that serves as both
a bobber and a sail to drift his bait far from shore to "where
the big boys are." Although conventional wisdom among flathead
anglers have long preached the use of live baits such as sunfish,
goldfish or shad, Cantrell prefers cut shad. He hooked the record
fish on a large gizzard shad head the evening of May 20 nearly
100 yards from shore.
"As soon as I got a look
at it I told my fishing buddy to get a tape measure. He was sure
enough a big one," Cantrell said.
Cantrell certainly knows what
a big flathead looks like. In October of 2002 Cantrell hooked
a flathead that was just a few ounces shy of the state record.
After landing the big fish, it was several hours before the fish
was officially weighed and measured. Fish held on a stringer
for long periods tend to loose weight, however. Had he secured
a big enough State Department of Agriculture certified scale
in the vicinity sooner, it's likely his 2002 fish could have
topped the existing record of 71 pounds.
Just missing the mark by a few
ounces didn't deter the angler. Some 19 months and dozens of
big flatheads later, Cantrell's persistence and unique angling
skills finally paid off.
"I was personally happy
for Barefoot to finally get the record after getting so close
before," said Comer. "He not only knows how to catch
the big ones, but he puts in a lot of days out there (at El Reno
Lake) throughout the year."
The new state record fish measures
35 inches around and 51 1/4 inches in length and was weighed
on certified scales at Ross Seed Company in El Reno.
A 72 and a half pound fish would
have been enough excitement in one night for most anglers, but
"I couldn't stop fishing
when they were just starting to bite," Cantrell said.
That same night he caught two
more flatheads weighing 45 and 68 pounds. Anyone who catches
a stringer of three fish that weigh 185 pounds is either very
lucky or very good. But none of them were keepers at least not
"I nearly always let them
go so they can grow up a little. I only keep a few to eat every
year," he said.
As for the new record flathead
- it has been transported to the Oklahoma Aquarium in Jenks.
It is hoped that the fish will be on display in coming weeks.
Barry Bolton, assistant fisheries
chief for the Wildlife Department says Cantrell's release practice
"It is great to hear that
these big fish are going back into the lake," Bolton said.
"After all, a 40-pound fish may be up to 30 years old, and
a 60-pound fish may be up to 40 years old."
The previous flathead record
of 71 pounds was set by James Skipper who pulled the catfish
from Oologah Lake in May of 1998.
For a complete list of record
fish and the procedures regarding certifying state record fish,
consult the "2004 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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