SIOUXLAND OUTDOORS:Angler catches record 54-pound flathead

SIOUXLAND OUTDOORS:Angler catches record 54-pound flathead

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It takes the whole family to lift this 54-pound flathead caught in the Big Sioux River last Sunday by South Sioux Cityan Jim Murphy. The fish bit a nightcrawler behind a spinner. From left are Sean Murphy, Jim Murphy and his sons Skyler and Britt. (Staff photo by Larry Myhre)

What was supposed to be a walleye trip in the mouth of the Big Sioux River last Sunday turned into a tug of war with a 54-pound flathead catfish for Jim Murphy of South Sioux City. The fish turned out to be a new line class record in the released division.

After attending the KSCJ Sports Show on Saturday, Jim decided to try his luck walleye fishing where many anglers have been having success this winter. He never caught a walleye but the big flathead munched down on his spinner and crawler harness and the fight began.

It took about 40 minutes to bring the bruiser to the top with a lot of encouragement from his 10-year-old son Skyler who was fishing with him.

"I didn't know what I had but when the fish finally surfaced in a cloud of bubbles, I couldn't believe my eyes," he said.

Asked why he was dragging a spinner and crawler around on a pattern that had been a jig and minnow bite, Jim replied that nothing else was working.

After having photos of the fish taken, Jim tried to have the fish weighed but had trouble finding someone with a scale that would weigh over the 50-pound mark. He finally found one and the 48-inch fish dragged the needle down to 54 pounds.

After weighing the fish, Jim pulled his boat back down to the Sioux, took the fish out of the livewell and released it.

"I resuscitated it for a bit and then the fish just took off with a splash," he said.

Jim caught the fish on 8-pound-test Berkley Trilene XL which he had loaded fresh on his reel the night before. The fish turned out to be a new line class record. The National Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame, keeper of line class records, reveals that the longest flathead recorded on 8-pound-test was a 43-inch fish caught in June of 1996 from the Minnesota River in Minnesota. Jim's fish bettered that mark by five inches and he is applying for the record book.

Anglers dinner

The River City Anglers are planning their annual fish dinner and membership drive for March 22. The dinner will begin at 1 p.m. at Council Oaks in Riverside Park. Doors will open at 11 a.m.

Membership in the club is $20 and includes the fish dinner and a hog roast in the fall.

There will be a raffle for fishing equipment and related items. Families are encouraged to attend.

Iowa tournaments

The Iowa Walleye Tournament Trail is expected to be the biggest ever this year.

Events have been set for the following dates and places:

April 19, 12-Mile Lake; May 10, East and West Okoboji; May 31, Clear Lake; June 14, Lake Rathbun; June 24, Mississippi River at East Dubuque; Sept. 6, Mississippi River at Bellevue; and Sept. 25-27 at Clear Lake.

The concept of a one-day tournament makes it more feasible for those who have commitments during the week and for those who don't want to spend days away from home.

"The Iowa Walleye Tournament Trail promotes a family fishing atmosphere," said IWTT Director Bernie Barringer. "Many of last year's competitors have shown great interest in returning to this year's Tournament Trail."

Back to defend their 1997 Team of the Year honors are Mike Painovich of Des Moines and Carl Baker of West Des Moines. Also back will be Terry Green and Brad Bull of Mason City who captured the Tournament Championship last September on the Mississippi River at Fort Madison.

The top 18 teams compete in the championship and there is no entry fee. Entry fees for the other tournaments will be $120 per two person team. A membership of $15 annually is required of each participant. Each first place winner is guaranteed $1,000.

For more information, contact Bernie Barringer, P.O. Box 40, Crystal Lake, Iowa 50432. Phone (515) 565-3389.

Larry Myhre is editor of The Journal.

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