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Illinois hunting and fishing

Big Fish Stories: Miss. River catfish

December 21, 2009 at 12:02 PM

ALTON, Ill. (AP)—The beast would have been enough for a feast. But 19-year-old angler Dustin McEwen says he’s just happy to have had the experience of wrestling a reported 80-pound catfish to shore.

The East Alton teenager muscled in the massive fish over 45 minutes while fishing the Mississippi River near Alton, using shad on his hook. He was fishing in late November.

The Alton Telegraph reported that the fish was a blue cat, but pictures would seem to indicate that this was instead a flathead catfish. The state record flathead is a 78-pounder caught by Jody Harris out of Carlyle Lake on Aug. 11, 1985. Click here to read more about Harris’ fish.

McEwen says he knew the fish was huge, and he didn’t want to lose it. His mission was to simply wear out the fish he later dubbed “Old Faithful” enough to reel it in.

McEwen snapped photos of his large catch and contacted his wife, who hustled to the river with McEwen’s 2-year-old daughter to see the catch.

But the fish caught a break. McEwen released it back into the water to fight another day.

Jeff Lampe contributed to this report.

Your CommentsComments :: Terms :: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

congratulation Dustin a fish of a lifetime!better yet still swimmin to give someone else the thrill again

Posted by trolloni on 12/21 at 08:29 PM

Nice fish and a great catch on rod and reel. He will spend the rest of his life trying to top that catch. Its not an 80 lbs flathead I’d say it more like 50lb. Does his left hand say DOPE?

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 12/22 at 08:12 AM

Nice fish…..no way its 80 pounds maybe 45…. still a whale on rod and reel. should have ate it—better than red lobster!! For those folks that have never had Flathead… they are the best eating catfish in the waters….no matter the size. They are a predator fish feeding mostly on live bait. Although when very hungry will eat dead shad but very rarely. The meat on a flathead (esp. the belly meat) is the brightest white non fishy tasting meat you can sink your teeth into. We caught 500 lbs worth this summer….it is like gold at our fish fry’s. If that fish is truly 80 lbs he should have saved it the state record is only 78lbs in illinois, caught in the tailwaters of the kaskaskia river on carlyle lake on a jig. Nothing wrong with throwing it back though. like i said still a whale on a pole.congrats again

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 12/22 at 09:10 AM

80 seems like a stretch, could be a big kid though.  Congrats and thanks for throwing it back!

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 12/22 at 01:00 PM

That catty is not even close to 80!

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 12/22 at 03:33 PM

The reason Illinois only has a 78# Flathead record is because of people like bill collector and his 500ibls of Flatheads! Kinda hard for those fish to get bigger then 78# when people catch them and eat them at the first chance they get! I realize I’m gonna get blasted on here for stating my opinion but hey that’s my right, just like its your right to eat whatever size fish you want. I just think we need to be smarter about what we’re doing to our rivers. Selective harvest people!!!

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 12/22 at 08:03 PM

Keep some small fish for the skillet and release the big ones!

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 12/22 at 09:23 PM

Dear Bill Collector….
Your an idiot. I honestly hope that anyone who reads what you wrote on here realizes that. For one, 500 pounds of fish is way too much to be bragging about taking. No matter what the species. There is no reason for anyone to take that much fish in a year. It’s people like you and your buddies that ruin fisheries for the rest of us and our generations to come.
Have you ever stopped to think how long it actually takes a Flathead catfish to grow to just 30 pounds? Let alone 80 pounds? You probably don’t. Just to let you in on a little secret, it will take anywhere from 25 to 35 years to replace a 30 pound Flathead. You say that you took 500 pounds. Do the math. No one knows how long it takes for a fish to grow to 80. Their growth slows after they hit 45#.
I hope you guys slap eachothers asses for a good game and congradulate yourselfs on helping to wipe out whole generations of Flathead just to have a good fish fry. How about you go make yourself usefull and catch some carp.
Good Job Dustin on letting it go!!! Imagine how big it will be when your daughter is old enough to catch him!!! (just as long a wild “Bill” doesn’t come to your area now to kill your fish and fill his fat belly)

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 12/22 at 10:19 PM

Guys before the knock down starts…........ remember that all species of catfish can and are taken legally by the commercial fishermen. One single net with a good sow baiter in it, will just during spawn, outfish almost any sport fishermans year. Now take that times a 60-100 net line…..... thats where the big take is. Why do you think Illinois has a biologist assigned to look after the commercial fishermens interests and cannot seem to find the money the past 4 years for a turkey biologist?

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 12/23 at 06:07 AM

I don’t think somebody catching 500lbs of catfish(if thats true) in a year makes them an idiot.  As long as its done legally, then who cares.  If the pop was in trouble then there would be limits.  To each is own.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 12/23 at 08:10 AM

Dear midillinoiswannabe
With all due respect, I’m sorry if you’re a little bitter about living in a really nice big house right next to another person’s really nice big house (I’ve seen it before driving by big sub-divisions while driving by on the the interstate) but for some of us country people and outdoorsmen catching and eating fish/wild game is a way of life and how we spend our time with friends and families. We come from folks that could not be happier taking a mature doe or shooting a hen mallard to put on the table to eat while at the same time showing our kids how to do it ethically and legally.  While you’re dropping your Peta/global warming/Obama donation off at the post office some of us will be flipping up the flag on the ol’ mailbox to mail our DU/NWTF/WU/NRA donations off.  The lifespan of a Flathead is 12-14 years….some live longer +-20 years. We throw back the 10-15 pounders and keep the mature fish.  That wasn’t 1 guys catch…it was 4-5 guys catch and it was a lot of work—a lot of early mornings and your damn right we high fived when we landed a big one—apparently you’ve never been smacked on the a$$ by a guy with a beer gut that just had his bloody arm elbow deep in a flatheads mouth….its heartwarming to say the least. So unless you’re one of these endangered 40 or 50 year old catfish and you learned over your long life to type with your whiskers, you keep chuckin back (not knocking it) and we’ll keep catching and eating the resources that God and the great state of Illinois provides us. BTW, 500lbs is only 15-20 fish if you fish with us—the rest get thrown back for seed. Please don’t be offended, I said with all due respect.  Long live Jimmy Big Time.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 12/23 at 10:11 AM

500lbs is very true and that a small take compared to some of the guys I know. Every one of them were caught on a hook in the mouth totally legal. Please keep in mind thats live weight. Thats not a lot of fish when you break it down (maybe 250lbs of fillets). Devided by 4 guys it will last all year per family.
  I have a group of 8 friends that run the Ohio River 2-3 times per year. They bring home 500-1000lbs of fillets each trip. They devide it out between their families, and friends who are very happy to have it. They also donate some of it for IFOR, church, and many other outdoor events.
  I do know a couple guys that are too greedy and should slack up. They all seem to be in competition to see who can catch the biggest flathead.
  Some people golf on weekends some people set lines and go fishing on weekends. To each their own.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 12/23 at 03:08 PM

Weather it’s 80pds or not the smart thing is the young man let it go which is more than I can say for guys keeping the larger fish. I catch plenty of Flathead and Walleye every year and I always let the large ones go. Its commons sense or the lack of from some fisherman keeping large amounts of Flatheads. I eat my fair share of walleye but I realease 10 times that amount. You guys catching all of these large fish need to leave your egos at home. To me there’s nothing cool or interesting about keeping that many fish. And no I dont live in a big house by the interstate, I live a block from the river and fish 3 to 5 times a week.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 12/23 at 04:49 PM

I tell ya guys im so sick of all this elitist crap in this country along with all the labeling and name calling i m ready to start shootin!I havent figured it all out but i think it has a lot to do with how our news media has portrayed people the last few years there is no respect for anyone anymore !This kid caught a heckofa fish and then released it!nothin more nothing less ,and for the other guys on here keepin fish and eating them more power to ya! As long its legal you can keep and eat whatever you want! I tell ya guys instead of all this bickering we better start gettin together and forming a coalition before we loose all our fishin,hunting and trapping priveledges to the rest of the big money anti this and that outfits, we are easy targets , and they are poised to pounce !and with our current polical situation things couldnt be more prime in there favor!Wake up !

Posted by trolloni on 12/23 at 06:28 PM

Bill,
I don’t know where you have recieved your information on your flathead so called knowledge but you better tell him to put the booze down and do some real research. I know what it is like first hand to catch big flathead. I know what its like to catch alot of them too. So don’t doubt me for one second that I don’t know what I’m talking about. I spend from May till Oct doing just that. I have never kept a single one in my whole life and I never plan to. Just because it is “legal” to do it doesn’t mean you should. If your going to keep a flathead, then keep the smaller ones. If i’m hungry i catch some bass or some bluegill. Your game plan on the conservation of this species is ass backwards. I’m sorry but the proper limits and regulations will never be put into place untill it is too late. Then the only thing you will be able to catch will be the smaller ones. Use your head.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 12/23 at 08:53 PM

i wonder wich he likes more dope or fishing

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 12/23 at 11:45 PM

Bill, no offence but it dosen’t sound like your a bright fisherman. Just because you do something from a tradition stand point dosen’t make it right. The state dosen’t regulate anything until they see a decline and then they attempt to do something. For the most part it takes decades for a species to regroup after over fishing. We had a fish kill here on the rock river and to this day have not stocked any catfish or flathead. They really failed on this one. We have near zero in my pool now. Every intelligent fisherman knows the rule, keep a “few” small ones for the frying pan and let the large ones go.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 12/24 at 09:17 AM

FYI, DOPE is the name of a heavy metal band.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 12/24 at 09:19 AM

DOPE.  I am sure his next employer will think of a rock band and not the results of his p test.  To each his own.  It’s a nice fish to land.  To further muddy the waters, eating the big ones is not recommended due to the accumulation of chemicals in most waters.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 12/24 at 11:37 AM

Chemicals yes, but they don’t tell ya that you have to eat 5000lbs. a week to hurt you.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 12/24 at 12:31 PM

First as I said in my first post and not to be neglected…nice catch on rod and reel!! Congrats!!! MidIllinoisbowhunter—I apologize for the pokes that probably arent true—just don’t get called an idiot very much. But…i really believe our flathead fishery is alive and well taking 15 to 20 fish all summer for 4-5 guys is not out of line. Fisheries are to be fished…its healthy for waters to be fished—if you don’t believe me toss one of those 40 pounders in your pond. They even eat other flatheads. Its idiots who take fish illegally and commercial fishermen that pull more fish than they could ever eat that knock a dent in the breeding pop. Before anybody has a reply to this post you have to estimate…how many Flatheads are in the Mississippi(thats a biggie) ? Ohio Riv,Illinois Riv,Wabash Riv,Smaller Rivers,Lakes?Diff states Rivs and Tribs. I am totally positive that 15-20 Flatheads for table fare will be OK.It has been for 100 years.I can’t congratulate the boy enough on a nice fish.Boys don’t get the Flathead blues…its christmas.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 12/24 at 10:13 PM

Yes, flathead are thriving in some areas and they are having a tough time in others. Thank you for making the point to address the comercial fishermen. They are the largest problem. Then take into consideration their ecosystem problems. Polution, invasive fish species, ect. ect. The point I’m making is that we do not need to help them out…. period. 500 pounds between 4-5 guys is not that much, I understand. But I also feel that 500 pounds shouldn’t be taken period. I just can’t stress enough how important it is to let the bigger ones go. Not only does it take a LONG time to grow that big they also produce the MOST eggs. If I was to take one I would take a 5 or 10 pounder before I ever dreamed of taking a 15+ pound fish. I’ve gone so far as to bringing them home and nursing them back to health the best that I can if I gut hook one bad. I haven’t lost one yet. And I have taken them back and released every one of them. And yes, for anyone who thought it would be a good idea to put a big flathead in their pond I’m sure they have learned that it wasn’t the best idea they have ever come up with in their lives. A flathead in a small body of water is alot different then in their natural habitat. It does something to them. They will eat everything in the pond untill they starve themselves to death. And chances are you will never be able to catch it to stop it. I appologise for calling you an idiot Bill, it was a little harsh. I just can’t stand it when people talk about killing big flatheads let alone talking about how good they taste. I would much rather have it where people kept that information to themselves. There are very few people that I talk to that I would ever even hint what I catch or where I catch them. That is exactly the reason why. I have a hard enough time not being noticed when I am fishing, I don’t have to make a point of it when I’m not. Merry Christmas!!!!

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 12/25 at 07:52 AM

this politically correct b.s. is just that.i don’t tell anyone to keep his fish and eat them so what gives you the right to tell me to throw mine back?commercial fisherman make their living pulling out huge numbers of flats,i don’t have a problem with that if done lawfully,but compared to what they’re pulling out,us pole and line/bank pole/hand fisherman don’t make a dent in the overall population,but please by all means keep throwing them back so i can whack em and stack em thank you and don’t believe what they say about the big ones tasting fishy, my 50 lber tasted great!

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 12/26 at 12:08 PM

Bass, go ahead eat all the large fish you want. Keep in mind that large Flathead have more contaminents than most fish combined due to the age of the fish and what they are eating. It’s not a theory or a story. Read your IDNR fish digest. Honestly none of us concerned fisherman are worried about what you do. What we are concerned about is the fish species. Any large fish does not taste nearly as good as the small ones. Your full of it, Iv’e eaten nearly all freshwater and many saltwater fish. Ill bet your deep frying the fish which a dog would taste good that way lol. In a twisted way it works out better that the non intelligent fisherman eat the most contaminated fish. Eat away, eat away! lol! Next time you get a chance look up mercury poisoning.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 12/26 at 03:32 PM

Nice fish, prob around 30 or 40 pounds. In fact, my 18 pounder looks a lot bigger and I am 6 feet tall.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 12/31 at 05:58 PM

Great fish Man !!!!!  Everyone I know wants to thank you for releasing it back, you da Man !!!
We need more people who are willing to do the right thing and keep these Giants in the Gene Pool still reproducing for your kids to catch.
For that you get an ATTA BOY AWARD !!!!!!
Personal Satisfaction is what it is all about, not killing a giant to get your name in a book. Your in my book of Great conservationist !!!

Thanks for your efforts to Keep Them ” Still Swimming” There are others like us who Love our Fish such as The http://www.catfishacademy.com Log on its free and you’ll fit right in my friend. PM me when you do Tommy Morehead

Posted by Catfishwidowmakr on 01/02 at 07:00 AM

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