Angler snags record catfish in the James by jfX7W8z

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									Angler snags record catfish in the James
By Jim Brewer
Daily Progress correspondent
Thursday, July 20, 2006

Archie Gold July 15-16/2006 New Virginia State Record
95.7 pounds-54 ½-inches long-38-½ inches in girth
James River

                                                        Thermometers are pushing
                                                        triple digits. Bass are so deep
                                                        you need a depth charge to
                                                        get their attention. Trout
                                                        streams are at a trickle and
                                                        smallmouth are running hot
                                                        and cold. About the only fish
                                                        that turns on when the heat
                                                        turns up are catfish. And boy,
                                                        did a big one ever turn up in
                                                        the lower James River.

                                                          On July 15-16, Archie Gold, a
                                                          veteran catfisherman, was
                                                          fishing in the James River
Catfishing Club Tournament out of Hopewell Marina in a late-evening affair that
began on Saturday night and ended on Sunday morning. Using a piece of cut shad,
Gold hooked up with a fish that will likely be certified as a new Virginia state record
blue catfish.

The big-un weighed in at 95.7 pounds. It was 54 ½-inches long and 38-½ inches in
girth. The current state record weighed 92.4 pounds and was caught at Buggs Island
Lake in June 2004.

Other than landing the monster, the biggest problem facing the Jetersville angler
was how to keep the thing alive until an unfortunate Game Department official could
be roused from his bed to come down and take a look. After all, it was 1 in the
morning when the catfish was lifted up on the scales.

Fellow anglers helped out by offering a larger livewell and everyone pitched in to
keep fresh water circulating.
Another problem surfaced when the anglers realized the scales they were using were
not certified. Green Top Sporting Goods in Ashland allowed the club to borrow their
official scales at 7:30 on Sunday morning.

Around 9:30, Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries Marine Biologist Ron
Southwick arrived on the scene to inspect the fish. The official weight was listed at
95.7 pounds, pending final certification.

After all the hoopla, the big catfish was returned to the James River and was
released alive. Another smallmouth or two for dinner and the big fella might tip the
scales at 100 pounds for the next angler.

One reason people have been catching so many trophy catfish throughout the state
is because of the spirit of catch-and-release displayed among the serious
catfishermen. These fellows know that the big ones aren’t much good to eat - loaded
with fat and who knows what all from the James River, and who would ever want a
90 pound catfish mounted on a rec room wall? Catfish are many things, but good
looking isn’t one of them.

There are, no doubt, catfish larger than 100 pounds in Virginia waters, with the best
chances coming from the James, the Rappahannock, the Potomac and Buggs Island
Lake. All these waters have healthy shad populations, the basic forage for big
catfish.

Perhaps the favored baits among hardcore “catmeisters” are live bluegills and cut
shad. There is an old wives’ tale that catfish like rotten, stinking bait, but that’s not
true. A catfish might eat foul-smelling bait, but they prefer fresh bait, 10 to one.

Just for the record, Archie Gold won the tournament that night. He picked up a $110
for first place. That’s about a dollar a pound for his efforts.

Congratulations are certainly in order to Gold and his fellow anglers for keeping the
big fish alive and releasing it safely back into the James River.

								
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