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News: Top Stories

Giant Mississippi River catfish landed after epic struggle

BNQT logo BNQT 7/2/2018 Pete Thomas
a person standing in front of a boat: File Photo © File Photo File Photo

An Iowa angler said he was nearly pulled overboard by a giant Mississippi River catfish he reeled to the surface at dawn Friday.

"I thought I was going in with him," Donald Goering told the Globe Gazette, explaining that the head of the 55-pound flathead catfish was too large for his walleye net, so he had to lean over the water and hoist the flailing fish aboard by the gills. "I dropped him three different times."

Goering, who weighs only 150 pounds, said the chaos began before dawn after an otherwise uneventful night of fishing near Credit Island off Davenport.

His 16-foot boat was nearly out of gas and the catfish struck as Goering was about to call it quits. The 30-minute battle was only part of an epic struggle.

"It was doing everything it could to shake that hook out of its mouth," Goering said. "He was giving me hell."

a man sitting on a boat: File Photo © File Photo File Photo

Goering, 53, was fishing with his nephew, Malakia Townsley, who had to hold onto Goering's calves and feet as his uncle kneeled and struggled to lift the behemoth onto the boat.

"I was shaking with excitement," Goering said. "The big ones always get away, but not this one."

The catfish did get away, in a sense. Goering kept the fish alive, presumably in the vessel's live well, and tossed it back into the river after it was weighed at the Credit Island Bait Shop.

Said bait shop manager Lisa Benningfield: "I'd never seen a fish that big."

Flathead catfish weighing 50-plus pounds are rare these days in Iowa, which makes veteran anglers wonder if anyone will break the 60-year-old state record. The record, set in 1958 off Chariton, stands at 81 pounds.

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