There is a new record channel catfish at West Point Lake, which fills a record that had stood as Open. Owen Knabe, of Newnan, landed the fish on April 22, and it weighed at 16-lbs, 7.5-ozs. to establish a new lake record channel catfish for West Point.
Two species of invasive catfish—the blues and the flatheads—have started to overrun the channel cat in West Point, so a 10-lb. channel is considered a nice-sized fish, according to biologists and area fishing guides.
Owen and his stepdad, Paul Kaiser, contacted WRD Fisheries Biologist Brent Hess as soon as Owen caught the fish.
“Looking at my standardized sampling data for 2017, our biggest channel catfish was 12-lbs., 5.5-ozs., which is the largest we have sampled in the past several years,” Brent said.
Keith Hudson is a full-time guide on West Point and a regular contributor to GON‘s Fishing Reports.
“Surprisingly, it is pretty unusual to catch a channel much over 10 pounds. I know there have to be bigger ones than that, but they just don’t seem common,” Keith said.
Owen had fished the lake with family and friends growing up, but he had never caught a catfish in West Point. He’d also never fished the lake with a guide, until the morning of his record catch.
Owen hit the lake around 7 a.m. Sunday morning with guide Todd Pursley.
Todd has a history of record fish caught from his boat, at one time holding the striper and hybrid records for West Point. Little did he know that another record fish would be caught from his boat.
Along for the guided fishing trip were Owen’s stepdad, step-brother and cousin. They put in down the lake and fished around, never staying in one spot for more than 15 or 30 minutes.
“We’d wear them out in one spot, catch fish for 20 or 30 minutes, and then nothing,” said Owen. “So we’d move. We went upriver a little ways and were catching some more. He had a bunch of different spots to go to, he’s been doing it a while. He put us on fish everywhere we went.”
About five hours into the day, around noon, Owen hit the jackpot.
“I casted out pretty far toward an island, and all of a sudden something got on the line that was fighting pretty hard. I was like, ‘This feels big,’” Owen said. ““At first he fought pretty hard, (Todd) said they do some kind of roll where they twist up and roll when you’re pulling them in.”
Owen was the first one to see the fish when it got close to the boat, and he automatically realized how big of a fish it actually was.
“When it got close to the boat, it just came right up, and we got him in the net. He barely fit,” said Owen. “(Todd) set it down in the boat and was like, ‘Oh my… that’s a record.’ He had been fishing there his whole life, and he had never seen a channel cat that big. I mean, it was massive.”
They put the fish in the cooler after filling it with lake water, and then got in touch with WRD to get the fish verified and weighed on certified scales. As soon as Brent Hess with WRD measured and weighed the fish, Owen let it go back into the lake.
“It was healthy, we watched it swim off,” said Owen. “That was one of the main things. I did not want to have to freeze it and kill it just to get a record.”
Owen said he did not expect going into the day that he would catch his first catfish, and he certainly didn’t expect his name to appear on GON’s Georgia Lake and River Records list.