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John's Journal... Entry 52, Day 5

Danny Zaidle

click to enlargeEDITOR'S NOTE: To consistently catch very big catfish, you must have heavy tackle and the knowledge of where to find and how to catch these monster-sized fish. In many lakes and rivers throughout the United States, catfish weighing more than 50 pounds cruise the bottoms.

Probably one of the most unlikely places in the world to look for a giant catfish would be in a city lake with water skiers, boaters and recreational fishermen. But on October 29, 1986, Danny Zaidle of Ennis, Texas, caught a 94-pound flathead cat on 17-pound test line, which was a world's record, while out fishing with his five-year-old daughter at his town's public lake known as City Lake.

click to enlarge"I was fishing with a crawfish-colored Hellbender and was getting ready to hand the rod to my daughter when the rod pulled back," Zaidle remembered. "I put my motor in reverse and started backing up, thinking I was hung. But when the boat was over the spot where I thought the lure was hung, I noticed the bait didn't turn loose but instead slowly moved along the bottom.

"The big flathead never fought hard. The fish just continued swimming with my lure, and I chased it for about 45 minutes. Finally when the large cat rolled up on the surface, I yelled for help. Three men came. I asked if I could borrow their net. But when they saw the size of the cat, they knew I had no chance of putting that fish in their landing net.

click to enlarge"I played the fish for another 45 minutes before it came alongside the boat and began to swim. I tied a ski rope around my waist, leaned over the side of the boat and grabbed the fish's lower jaw. As I did that, one of the men took hold of the fish behind its gills. That's when the fight truly began. The flathead thrashed and flopped. The two of us had all we could handle trying to get that big fish into the boat. At first I thought I had caught a Texas state record, but after I had it weighed, verified, certified and notarized, I learned I had a world's line-class record. I had the catfish mounted."

click to enlargeAccording to local reports around the lake, a 70-pound catfish was caught a few years ago as well as a 74 pounder taken on a trotline. Although the little lake is only 30 acres in size, Zaidle explained that, "That lake is at least 100 years old."

To learn more about catching catfish, go to Night Hawk Publications' Home Page, click on books, and then go to fishing books to see John Phillips' "The Masters' Secrets of Catfishing." You can buy the book by sending a check or a money for $13.95 to Night Hawk Publications, 4112 Camp Horner Road, Birmingham, AL 35243, or use a credit card by calling (800) 627-4295.

Next Week: More World Record And Monster-Sized Cats




Check back each day this week for more about World Record And Monster-Sized Cats ...

Day 1 -Ralph Barbee, Jr.
Day 2 -Edward Elliot
Day 3 -Ken Stage
Day 4 -Ted Jowett
Day 5 -Danny Zaidle

John's Journal