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Gigantic Man Size Catfish in a Lake Near You? - Urban Legend, Myth or Fact?

Urban Legend Monster Catfish

Everybody has heard the stories of gigantic monster catfish in your local reservoirs. They always scare the divers and they say they are bigger than a man down there. One such legend exists in Georgia around Lake Lanier, another in Santee Cooper in South Carolina. Lake Texoma in Texas has this legend and so does Kerr Lake in Virginia. Wait, there is a legend about monster gigantic catfish from Kerr Lake? That's funny, didn't somebody just catch a big catfish there? Let me look, yes Nick Anderson, the 29 year old football coach from Kinston High School, caught a 143 pound monster blue catfish from this lake. As the legend for Kerr Lake goes a Navy diver sent into the lake to recover the wreckage of a small plane. While searching he encounters a fish the size of a man on the lake’s bottom. He bolts to the surface and refuses to dip a toe in the waters again. Wow! That does sound like Urban legend stuff, doesn't it?

143 Pound Monster Blue Catfish caught at in Kerr Lake.

143 Pound Monster Blue Catfish caught at in Kerr Lake.

Great Catfishing Books!

143 Pounds???

Now that really is a monster catfish! Well I can't speak for you, but if I was diving and saw that fish I would be pretty scared too! Nick's fish was 57 inches long and had a girth of 43 inches. Their landing net was way too small to land this super sized catfish so Nick's dad, Rick, was responsible for netting the head while his brother, Jeramie Mullis, grabbed the tail.

Let's look at another such giant. The fish below was caught in Lake Marion of the Santee Cooper Lakes a few years back by Tom Frederick. I asked Tom about this fish, and he said it was 76 inches long and weighed 135 pounds. He caught it while trot lining, which is why you didn't hear much about it. If it had been caught on a rod and reel you would have seen it everywhere. Tom says even on the trot line they had a time landing this beast.

If you look at the size of the head on this fish, you can see that if you were face to face with this catfish when you were diving, it could be quite frightening. The mouth on this catfish could easily hold your head, and they are swimming in large lakes and rivers all over the United States.

135 Pounds and 76 inches long is one big flathead catfish.

135 Pounds and 76 inches long is one big flathead catfish.

Why Aren't More of These Giant Catfish Caught?

Well, in the case of Nick's 143 pounder, he was fishing with 30 pound test line and an ugly stick rod. Nick was lucky that he had a good sized net and two other strong men with him to help land the brute. He also did an excellent job of working the fish, bringing it up four times then working it and wearing it down before landing it. I am convinced many very large catfish are lost everyday and nobody ever knows how big they were.

Gary Turner with a good Santee Cooper Flathead Catfish

Gary Turner with a good Santee Cooper Flathead Catfish

Landing Giant Fish- Luck or Skill?

Nick fishes with a little heavier gear than your average person uses. Most people just going out to fish are not setup to fight or land a fish anywhere near that size. If they were lucky enough to hook into a monster, it would be all they could do to land it. There are those rare occasions when somebody fishing with a Zebco 33 lands a big fish but a lot of luck was on their side. If you are an experienced fisherman like Tim Berg you can land a 319 pound Halibut on a Salmon mooching rod and 40 pound line.
I talked with catfishing pro and guide Jonathon Herndon of Catfish Reaper Charters, he uses a heavier leader so the rough mouths of the catfish can't saw off the line after they are hooked. If you have ever felt the inside of a catfishes mouth they are very rough and the bigger they get the harder they can bite. Capt. Dewayne Proffit of Takin' It Easy Guide Service guides on Lake Marion of the Santee Cooper Lakes. He likes to use a little heavier lines when he goes after big catfish. With the structure you have in lots of these lakes and reservoirs where the big cats like to hang out I prefer a heavier line to handle the stumps and rocks these fish love to use against you.

Great Books on Catfishing

Are There Bigger Giant Catfish Out There?

I believe it was Doug Stange of In-Fisherman Magazine that said he believed there was a 150 pound catfish out there waiting to be caught. After seeing Nick catch a 143 pounder and several other catfish caught over the 125 pound mark it is only a matter of time before somebody lands another monster. I tried to find this picture I remember of a blue catfish that was caught in the 1800's on the Mississippi River that weighted over 250 pounds. People said they don't get that big anymore because of the dams and pollution and things man has done to the rivers. Well just maybe we are on our way back to growing these behemoth catfish of yesterday once again.

The Monster Catfish Urban Legend - Busted, Plausible or Proven

Here is my outlook on this urban legend. When I am standing or walking I am 5' 11 inches tall. This allows us an easy way of making everything fit in our minds on a scale while we view things in our world. When you are swimming or scuba diving you are laying in the water, not our natural world. Our senses are throw off by the fact we are horizontal not vertical. I mean think about it do you feel you walking height when you are swimming? So if a creature such as a very large catfish approaches you under water do you think he actually has to be bigger than you to appear bigger. In the case of the Santee flathead Tom caught, if it were swimming up to you and all you saw was the head you might be inclined to say it was much bigger than you.

In conclusion I am putting this legend or myth down as very plausible and as the great catfishing enthusiasts continue to break record after record finding these monster catfish we will see catfish bigger than men.

If you have comments please leave them in the space provided below.
Thanks Gary 'Gone Fishin" Turner

Are There Monster Catfish???

These Ladies Ain't Scared!

Gone Fishin Club

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Jeremy Wade with a River Monster Catfish!

This is not a North American Catfish

These videos of River Monsters are of South American Catfish. They do have some similarites with the flathead of North America. As more people beef up their game it will be interesting to see just how big a catfish will be caught in North America this year.


Zaebly on June 28, 2012:

I live on lake Lanier in Gainesville, ga myself and I definitely believe we have some huge catfish. Many have said they have seen more than one 8ft catfish down near Buford dam (because the water is so deep and catfish grow as big as their environment will allow.) I don't swim in the lake myself for that reason ha

Debra Cornelius from Georgia on July 07, 2011:

I do believe there are 'Monster Cats' out there and just waiting for my son-inlaw to land one! ...or one of his lucky clients!!! ;)

Gone Fishin Club (author) on July 06, 2011:

Thank you Gordon and Casey for taking a look at my hubpage.

Casey J. Winters on July 05, 2011:

Well done. Your writing is clever and interesting. I love urban legends, even if I don't generally believe them. Good stuff; keep up the good work!

Gordon Hamilton from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom on July 04, 2011:

Great Hub and I have no doubt that these fish must exist somewhere in the USA. The European record was caught in Spain in 2006 by a visiting British angler. It was 8ft long and weighed 226lb, while the world record from the Mekong Delta was 646lb and caught in 2005. Not really in to freshwater fishing (only sea) but would definitely love a go at playing one of these monsters! :)