i stumbled on this awesome article earlier to day and thought u guys would enjoy a good fish story.... this monster was caught less than 10min from my house. For a few brief seconds, Dustin Hagy was convinced he had snagged his fishing line on the bottom of the Kanawha River. Then the bottom moved. "I'd never felt anything like that before," said Hagy, 23, of Sissonville. "I'd hooked some big fish before, but nothing that could even begin to compare to this one." As soon as he felt the fish's power, Hagy knew what he'd hooked - a truly enormous flathead catfish, the kind known to startle scuba divers out of 10 years' growth. Hagy gripped the handle of his reel a little tighter and settled in for the piscatorial fight of his life. Hagy, a self-described "catfish specialist," had spent the past several years seeking just such an encounter. "For a long time, I did most of my fishing on the Ohio River," he said. "This last year, I switched to the Kanawha. I'd caught some nice catfish before, but nothing over 22 pounds. On Oct. 5, the day I hooked the big one, I had decided to fish in the Dunbar area." Many anglers prefer to fish for big catfish at night. Hagy had opted for a daytime excursion. He arrived on the riverbank at 1 p.m. and set about catching his bait. "Big catfish like live bait," he explained. "I like to fish with creek chubs, gizzard shad, skipjack herring or bluegills. Sometimes I catch them with a cast net; other times I catch them one at a time with rod and reel." Hagy got out his "herring rig," a 2-foot leader with small artificial flies attached to it. Within minutes, he'd landed a pair of 9-inch skipjacks. He threaded one onto his catfish rig's size 5/0 hook and cast it far out into the river. Two hours later, he reeled the line in, re-baited with a fresh skipjack and resumed fishing. Ten minutes later, the big flathead hit. "I felt one small tug," Hagy said. "When I reeled up the slack, the fish was there. At first I thought I was snagged on the bottom, but then I felt the fish start to take off. It took a lot of line." Eventually Hagy regained the lost line and worked the leviathan toward shore. After roughly a half hour, he clamped his hands on the fish's lower lip and hauled it onto the bank. "I could see it was huge, way bigger than anything I'd ever seen," Hagy said. "I knew the state record was 70 pounds, and I thought this one had a chance to be that big. I wanted to get it weighed." Hagy carried the still-struggling fish to his compact car, stuffed it into the trunk and headed for the Dunbar FasChek supermarket to get it weighed. "They had certified scales, but they would only weigh up to 50 pounds. So I headed over to the Dunbar Police Department to see if they could get hold of the [Division of Natural Resources]," he said. The police couldn't help him, so Hagy drove to the Gander Mountain store in Southridge Centre. "They had certified scales there, and they weighed it for me," he said. "It ended up weighing an even 60 pounds." Remarkably, the fish was still alive even after all the manhandling and three car rides. So, after posing for a few photos, Hagy drove it back to the Kanawha and released it. "It swam off just fine. It's there for someone else to catch now," he said. Hagy never measured the fish's length, and it might have cost him a chance at the state record for the longest flathead ever caught. The state-record 70-pounder, caught in 1956 from the Little Kanawha River, was 52 inches long. Hagy's fish appeared approximately that big - or bigger - in photos taken after the catch. Hagy is 6 feet tall, and the big flathead stretched from just below his chin nearly to his shoe tops. "We'll never know [if it was a record], though, because I never thought to have it measured," he said ruefully. Measured or not, Hagy's fish is a trophy by anyone's standards. "I'd consider it a once-in-a-lifetime fish," said Bret Preston, fisheries chief for the state Division of Natural Resources. "Flatheads can get big in lakes and rivers, but 60 pounds is big anywhere." Now Hagy wonders whether he can ever match his accomplishment. "I'll probably never catch another fish like that as long as I live," he said. "I'd sure like to, though."