Giant Lake Oconee Blue Cat Smashes Old Record

The 69-lb., 7-oz. blue catfish was caught on Sept. 16 about a mile from the Lake Oconee dam.

A new blue catfish record on Lake Oconee was set on Sept. 16 by Wayne Tatum, of Tennille. The monster blue weighed 69-lbs., 7-ozs. and was caught around 10 a.m. Friday morning about a mile up the lake from the dam. The giant fish smashes the old Lake Oconee blue cat record by more than 22 pounds.

This is the second record catfish from Lake Oconee within the same week. A record-breaking flathead was caught Sept. 9. That full story can be viewed at www.gon.com.

Wayne said he has been fishing Lake Oconee since it was impounded.

“I go to Highway 44 and put in, and I catch my bait there. After I catch my bait, I take my boat back out of the lake and drive down to the dam and put in,” said Wayne.

Wayne anchored in 45 feet of water. He was fishing about 3 feet off the bottom using an Abu Garcia 6500 reel.

“I was using some live gizzard shad and cut gizzard shad,” said Wayne.

Wayne prefers to use gizzard shad, but if he can’t catch them, he uses threadfin shad.

Amazingly, Wayne had already caught a blue catfish earlier that morning that weighed 42 pounds on part of the same gizzard shad he caught the record-breaking fish on.

“I put the middle section of this gizzard shad on this other line, the one the big fish hit,” said Wayne. “I imagine it took me 20 minutes or a little longer to get it in. Whenever I finally got it to the boat, that’s where the fun began because I was trying to fit something 52 inches long in a 25-inch deep landing net, and that doesn’t work too good. I finally got the net hung up in part of my boat on one of my railings, and we both rested for 10 minutes, and then I reached over and grabbed the left-hand side of the net and pulled the net and everything into the boat, and it just flounced in the floorboard. I said to myself, ‘Well, I have never had a fish measured or weighed in my life, but this one I’m gonna take and have it weighed.’”

He called his son, who works in Milledgeville, and he gave Wayne the information on where to take the record-breaking fish to be weighed. Wayne drove to the WRD Fisheries office in Social Circle.

“There was a fellow named Tony, and he was the one who unfortunately had to take it out of the boat for me because I was about to give out, and he weighed it and certified it,” Wayne said. “I had to drive back through Milledgeville and show it to my son and everyone who worked there.”

Wayne said over the years he has fished for every type of fish in Lake Oconee.

“I fished for stripers and hybrids for years, but I had a friend I went catfishing with one day, and I kind of liked that. It was a change, and I got kind of interested in it,” said Wayne. “I’ve never caught one like this, so it was a surprise.”

GON keeps and compiles Georgia’s official Lake and River Records, which are published each February in GON magazine. If you catch a fish you think might be a lake or river record, call GON at (800) 438-4663 or e-mail letters@gon.com.

All potential record fish must be weighed on certified scales (tested by Ga. Dept. of Agriculture) for consideration, and for many species a verification by a fisheries biologist will be required.

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