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Bass In The : Delta

Back-To-Back Monster Wedowee Cats
By Donny Karr
Posted Tuesday August 29 2017, 11:18 AM
Sixteen-year-old Andrew Arrington caught a 43-lb. blue catfish at Lake Wedowee July 20.
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AIt is well known among Alabama anglers that Lake Wedowee, also known as R.L. Harris Reservoir, is a top destination for bass and crappie, but monster catfish could soon be added to that list. Local fishermen Daniel White and his nephew, Andrew Arrington, 16, landed two huge blue cats on back-to-back days in July.

“We’ve caught lots of catfish in the past from Wedowee, but these two were—by far—the biggest ones we’ve ever got,” said Daniel. “There are some really big catfish out here, but not many people ever target them.”

The pair were fishing on the evening of July 20 from a dock on the upper side of the lake where the Little Tallapoosa River feeds into the reservoir. After watching their lines sit in the water for hours, one rod began to slowly bend.

Daniel grabbed the rod and set the hook before handing it to Andrew, and then he rushed to reel in the other lines. Daniel knew it would be a feat to land the large fish as the rod was spooled with 12-lb. test line. He coached his nephew on how to handle the massive catfish, and he watched as Andrew carefully brought it closer to the dock.

After 30 minutes of fighting, Andrew finally landed the fish, a 43-lb. monster blue catfish.

“I honestly thought it was a turtle at first because it was pretty heavy, but it wasn’t pulling much,” said Andrew. “I couldn’t believe how big it was when I got it in.”

The second giant came almost a full 24 hours later on July 21. After putting in another hard day’s work on the cattle farm, Daniel and Andrew returned to the lake hoping to catch another big one.

“It was really hot—well above 90 degrees,” said Daniel. “We baited our hooks just like we had the day before, sat on the dock, and waited. I’ve learned a lot from the old-timers around here, and the key to catching big catfish is patience.”

After a few hours, the fish took the bait, and line began to scream off Daniel’s reel.

“Right away, I knew it was another big one,” said Daniel. “I just stayed calm and worked him until he wore down.”

The fish was even bigger than their catch the previous day—this time a 51-lb. behemoth. Like the other big cat from the day before, Daniel slowly revived the fish before releasing it back into the lake.

Both fish were caught on bream cut bait. Daniel said he is lucky to have a small farm pond near the lake that is full of healthy bream.

“We always go by the pond and catch a few bream to use for bait,” said Daniel. “Cut bait is the best thing to use for the big ones. We only use bream for cut bait because using crappie is illegal. One time I asked a game warden what the difference was between using a cut bream and a cut crappie, and he informed me that the difference was about a $50 fine.”

In Alabama, bream are the only native gamefish that can be used as bait, and only if caught by legal fishing methods.

Daniel has been fishing Wedowee for several years, and he is well aware of the feeding habits of the lake’s catfish.

“Last year, I caught a catfish that weighed about 9 pounds,” said Daniel. “When I put him in the livewell, he spit up a 10-inch crappie that he had eaten earlier.

“Until then, I had no idea a catfish that size would eat something that big.”

According to Daniel, the lake’s abundant number of crappie provide more than enough food for huge catfish.

After years of experience, he homed in on the perfect time to go after big ones.

“They will go down into the open water to spawn in June and July, and then they start moving back upriver in late July,” said Daniel. “Those big ones are going to be hungry when they are coming off the beds and start heading back upriver. If you time it just right, you can catch some really nice catfish this time of year.”

Daniel said he typically uses 15- to 30-lb. test line for catfish, but he noted how impressed he was that Andrew managed to land one of the fish on 12-lb. test.

“He did really good not to let that fish get off. I’m really proud of him,” said Daniel.

While both fish were much larger than anything the two have ever caught, Daniel is convinced there are bigger cats in Wedowee.

“I’ve fished here enough and seen the ones people have caught on limb-lines,” said Daniel. “There’s probably a 70-lb. blue cat somewhere out here. If someone fished for it enough, they could catch it.”
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