Illinois hunting and fishing

Mike Douin,  Jeremy Leskovisek and Devon Loftus, all of Springfield, hold a 110 pound, 2 ounce blue catfish they landed while fishing on the Mississippi River near Alton. Photo courtesy of Jeremy Leskovisek.

Blue cat crew tries to reel in a record

July 11, 2012 at 08:18 AM

The blue catfish was so big it overwhelmed the scale when three fishermen tried to weigh it.

“We put it on a 100-pound Berkley scale and it just said, ‘Full,’” said Jeremy Leskovisek.

Leskovisek, Mike Douin, and Devon Loftus – all of Springfield – were trying to weigh a big blue catfish early on the morning of July 1.

They thought it could challenge the Illinois state record of 124 pounds, 4 ounces.

The three were fishing in the Alton Pool of the Mississippi River, just below the dam.

The Alton Pool is known as big blue catfish territory, and from the moment the fish was hooked at 2:55 a.m., they suspected it might weigh more than 100 pounds.

Tim Pruitt of Alton holds the state record. The blue catfish he landed in 2005 stood as the World Record for a time.

The present world record is 143 pounds.

Leskovisek hooked the fish and had help landing it from Douin and Loftus.

“It was definitely a team effort,” Leskovisek said.

The fish was 54.5 inches long, and 42 inches around.

They used a mooneye shad for bait and boated the fish after a spirited 10-minute fight.

Then they started calling around to find someone with a certified scale to weigh the fish and someone from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to witness the weigh-in.

Leskovisek stayed with the catfish from 3:30 – 7:30 a.m., wading in the waters along the shoreline to keep the fish in the water and alive.

A friend, Zack Zimmermann, answered the early morning call and drove down from Springfield with a scale big enough to weigh the fish.

He also brought a horse trough big enough to hold a 100-pound catfish – just in case.

Leskovisek is a relative newcomer to the hunt for giant blue catfish.

“Mike and Devin go out there all the time,” he said. “The biggest one they’ve caught was 75 pounds.”

The final weight was 110 pounds, 2 ounces.

That’s short of a record, but worth one heck of a fish story and a high-fiving, hollering celebration after boating the fish.

And they were mere moments from packing it in for the night.

“We said that when we get to that corner, we are going to stop,” he said. “We were just minutes from calling it quits.”

Chris Young can be reached at 788-1528.