Fish Story in the Paper

Discussion in 'Member Braggin Area' started by EricM, Mar 25, 2007.

  1. EricM

    EricM Active Member

    Messages:
    361
    State:
    Cleveland TN
    WHAT A YEAR!​


    The Cleveland Daily Banner here in Tennessee had so little for its Sunday Sports section on 3/25/07 that it interviewed me and ran an article to fill space. First time I've been interviewed without doing something really bad first! Actually, it was really nice of them and they wrote up a terrific article. They were, of course, really interested in the story of the pending word line class record 84 lb blue cat that I caught 3-18-07. They gave me a shot at doing some bragging, which of course I jumped at. Somehow, I forgot to mention going into the water a couple of times recently - an honest mistake! Trust me! Really!

    This was kind of nice - I halfway expected that the next time I was mentioned in the paper it would be in the obits or jail dockets!

    Because I had to pull a lot of information together for the interview, I thought I’d share it with all of you in the BOC:

    I have submitted 117 trophy fish (by far the most in the state) for recognition by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency through their Tennessee Angler Recognition Program (TARP). These fish must reach minimum lengths (striped bass: 40”, blue and flathead catfish: 34”, largemouth bass: 22”, etc.) to qualify. Catfish account for 105 of these fish.

    I have qualified 23 times for the Tennessee Master Angler Level 1 award (5 trophy fish of any species), twice for the Master Angler Level 2 award (5 trophy fish of different species), and was the first of only 3 people in Tennessee to qualify for the Level 3 Master Angler award (10 trophy fish of different species). I even helped the other two, both TWRA fish biologists, to catch their 10th species (blue catfish) by taking them fishing with me.

    I have caught the largest blue catfish submitted to the Tennessee Angler Recognition Program (57 inches).

    Twice I have set the International Game Fish Association (IGFA) World Line Class record for blue catfish and have two more currently pending approval. Additionally, I have set the IGFA State Line Class records for Tennessee largemouth bass four times.

    From In-Fisherman Magazine I have received five Master Angler recognitions, have submitted two additional entries, and have received two Master Angler certificates for submitting the largest released fish in two species categories in 2006 for the entire Southeast Region of the United States.

    Amazingly, nearly all of these awards were earned in 2006, and all of the fish involved came from Chickamauga Lake near Chattanooga, Tennessee. This is a terrific fishery, and I am very fortunate that I can spend a great deal of time investigating it.

    The biggest fish for the last year are: Blue catfish: 84, 77, 69, 66, 65, and 64 pounds; Flathead catfish: 45”; Striped bass: 43”; Spotted bass: 18 ¼”; and White bass: 18”.

    Here is the link to the article: http://www.clevelandbanner.com/NF/omf/daily_banner/sports_story.html?rkey=0065229+cr=gdn

    Here are some pictures:

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    Wishing good fishing and Big Fish to all of you! Eric
     
  2. EricM

    EricM Active Member

    Messages:
    361
    State:
    Cleveland TN
    I've gotten a number of PM's asking for more information on catching these big fish, so I'd like to post some of it here for everyone.
    I fish the Tennesse River and use a controlled drift, about 1/2 current speed, to bounce a bait in short slow hops along and down the channel edges wherever there is some sort of change, such as old feeder streams, rocks, old timber or stumps, even sharp points or bends - anything to change the current. Most of my fishing is in 30-55 feet of water, and the more current, the better. I watch my sonar for schools of baitfish and concentrate on those areas. I do not usually see the big cats on the sonar, they get lost in the shadows of the drop-offs, but I know the big fish will be with the structure and baitfish pretty much all year round.
    My favorite baits are, in order: cut skipjack, shad (gizzard and threadfin), and cut bluegill (legal here). I use both fresh and frozen, and don't find much difference in effectiveness. If I am targeting ONLY really big fish, I will use huge chunks of bait such as 1/3 of a 12" or 14" skipjack. Normally I like to use the equivalent of a 1" or 1 1/2" steak cut across the skipjack. I will change to another piece of bait after a while when it begins to look bleached out so that I put more oil and blood scent into the water.
    The area I fish most is relatively snag-free, so I usually use a 7' Ugly Stik casting rod in a medium action with a Shimano Cardiff 400 reel (for the really smooth drag). I tend to use Ande Tournament mono in 20# test with a 4' leader of 25 or 30 lb and a slip sinker on a 10 or 15 lb dropper. I favor 8/0 Gamagatsu circle hooks and 5/0 kahle hooks, but adjust size to the bait I'm using. It takes from 30 minutes to 90 minutes to land these fish with this rig and a preset drag of about 25% to 30% of line strength.
    I hope this information is helpful to you. It is certainly not the only way or even the best way to catch fish, but it is what works well for me on the body of water that I fish. Thanks! Eric