Blake White, 27, of Thomson, has been fishing his whole life and picked up limb lining when he was 14 years old. Limb lining has been around for many years, and no doubt it’s a fun and very productive way to catch catfish.
For limb lining, Blake uses 250-lb. braided cord with a 6- to 8-oz. weight attached. Blake has a 10/0 circle hook on the end. Last year, he had a 150-lb. cord broken. After that, he got bigger equipment to hold these fish. Blake always attaches the line to a strong green limb so it won’t break.
“Friday evening, me and Dad headed out to set some limb lines,” said Blake. “I was setting lines in a tributary off Clarks Hill Lake. I ended up setting 21 lines baited with shad. For best results, drop the bait into the water all the way to the bottom and lift it up 6 inches from the bottom.”
Early Saturday morning, Blake and his dad Jeff loaded up the boat to check the lines they set the evening before. The first 10 lines Blake checked were empty, but the next set of lines would provide very different results.
“After not having anything in the first 10 lines, we started checking the next set of lines,” said Blake. “When we were in sight of the next lines, I saw a whole tree moving. It was getting jerked over into the water. I passed up six or seven lines just to see what was on that single one. Once I got about 20 feet from the line, it stopped moving, and I thought it popped the line. I grabbed the line, and it took off again.”
Thinking he had a gator at first, Blake fought with it for three or four minutes before the catfish came to the surface.
“Once this big creature surfaced, it was a huge catfish,” said Blake. “I reached down to get it with one hand, and I couldn’t lift it up. I finally got it with two hands. We have a 120-quart cooler, and we had to fold this giant in half to make it fit. It was truly unreal the size of this fish.”
Blake went to Happy Valley Processing to get the flathead catfish weighed on certified scales. The giant catfish weighed 71 pounds even.
“I will probably never catch another fish like this one,” said Blake. “It is truly a fish of a lifetime. The same day, we were eating on this fish. Cant beat that!”
To be considered for a lake or river record, anglers must catch their fish on a rod and reel. The current flathead record for Clarks Hill is 64-lbs., 3.5-ozs. That fish was caught by Jake Manley on May 8, 2010. The state record for a flathead catfish caught by rod and reel is 83 pounds. Two Altamaha River flatheads share that state record mark.