All images courtesy of Brad Cox
During a recent tournament on Lake Sinclair, Georgia angler Brad Cox caught a giant blue catfish that almost crushed the current lake record.
Keep reading and find out how Brad caught his massive blue cat, what it weighed, and how it felt to land such a huge trophy fish!
I had a great Q&A interview with Brad the other day. As it’s always best to let the angler do the talking, I included all of his answers in the article.
I find that’s the most exciting and authentic way of telling a great fishing story. Let’s get right to it, then!
What made you decide to head out that day, and what area of the lake did you target?
“I headed out that morning early to fish a tournament. I got to the lake at 4 a.m. to catch bait and started fishing at 7 a.m.
It was around 20 degrees with high winds. Pretty miserable. The weigh-in was at Little River, so I launched from there and focused on the area between Twin Bridges and Little River.”
Brad participated in a warm-up contest for the upcoming regional “Middle Georgia Catfish Anglers Tournament.”
He told me that “our season starts next month, but it was with the same group of guys that usually fish the series. Our entry was $100 a boat, so I won $700 on this one fish. We normally average 20 boats, but the bad weather kept many folks away.”
Pretty cool to win an entire tournament with a 3 fish weigh-in with one single catch! That’s respect and 700 bucks well earned!
What method and bait did you use to catch your blue cat?
“I was fishing with a rod and reel on the bottom with cut gizzard shad.
I was anchored when I caught the fish, but I also did troll and spot lock that day.”
What gear were you using that day?
“I used Mad Cat 7’ 6” casting rods with Abu Garcia 7000 reels, 50 lb mono with 100 lb mono leaders, and 9/0 Charlie Brown circle hooks.”
Can you describe the bite and the fight?
“The fish bit around 9.30 a.m. I was in my third spot and had only one fish in the boat. The bite was slow.
It was a slow takedown but a hard one. He didn’t put up a huge fight until I got him directly under the boat.
Whenever I thought I would see him, he would dig hard straight down, peeling drag.
This went on for what seemed like forever but was probably around ten minutes. Then, finally, I got him to the surface and was able to net him.”
How did you feel when you saw the fish and realized how big it was?
“I put my rod down and took a breather. I knew he was good and over 40 pounds once I had him in the net!
I called my dad as I was just on the phone with him complaining about the bad weather and slow bite. Put him on speaker phone and lifted the fish into the boat.
I was fired up now and knew the fish was probably over 50 pounds!
I didn’t try to weigh him by myself; I just put him in my 100 gals life well and could hardly wait for the 3.30 p.m. weigh-in.”
How much did it weigh, and how long was it?
“The blue cat weighed in at an insane 59.8 pounds.”
That was extremely close to Lake Sinclair’s current blue catfish record, which weighed 60lb 7.8oz!
Angler James Rowland caught this behemoth just last summer (June 2023), and just like Brad, he too caught and released his trophy blue cat.
And speaking of catch&release!
How important is CPR to you?
“CPR is super important to me. The best part of catching that fish was seeing it swim off.”
CPR stands for Catch, Photograph, Release and is a common practice in the US catfish community, especially when it comes to trophy-sized fish.
Practising CPR means a stable and vibrant fish population, as it ensures that the big specimens continue to live and breed.
Additionally, if done correctly, releasing big fish allows other anglers to experience the same joy you did when catching that trophy cat!
Of course, fish care is super critical in this regard, so the fish aren’t injured or potentially die after you release them back into the water.
PRO TIP: Use a landing net and keep the weighing and photographing time as short as possible if you can.
As a catch&release-angler myself, I must say that I am very positively surprised by how common CPR appears to be among catfishermen. That’s really positive!
DID YOU KNOW: Georgia’s current blue catfish state record is an enormous fish of 110lb 6oz caught on the Chattahoochee River in 2020.
Can you share any secret tips for a successful winter blue cat trip?
“Bad weather or not, you have to be out there to catch them!
The main thing that helped me that day was sticking to my game plan.
Even though the weather was miserable and the morale was low, I stuck with my plan and felt I would find a good one where I was looking.”
Once again, I would like to congratulate Brad on his excellent catch and thank him for this interview. I truly enjoyed talking to him and covering the story around his catch.
Tight lines, Brad. May you catch plenty more trophy cats in the future!