CONNIE SWINNEY • STAFF WRITER
Fisherman’s Prayer: “Lord help me catch a fish so large that even I in the tell of it never need to lie.”
SUNRISE BEACH — Tim Webb says on Dec. 22, he got “lucky” when he crossed paths on Lake LBJ with a “lazy” blue catfish.
Around 5:30 p.m. that day standing on the shoreline in Sunrise Beach, he says he reeled in his catch — a whopping 71.4-pounder, 51 and 3/4 inches long with a 33-inch girth.
“We nicknamed it ‘Big Blue,’” he said of the catfish, which was officially weighed and documented at Inks Lake State Park by Texas Parks and Wildlife park rangers.
“If somebody would have videoed me bringing the fish on the bank, dancing, hollering and trying to catch my breath, I probably would have been sent to the state hospital for an evaluation,” Webb said. “I went out there and just got lucky.”
Despite his own level of excitement as he reeled it in, the catfish failed to put up much of a fight, he said.
“A lot of times when you’re bass fishing, there’s a big blow up or strike, gets your adrenaline going, but when you’re catfishing — I call it a ‘beer man’s sport’ where you throw out your lines, grab a beer, grab a chair — so (the fish) was kind of like me, the bigger I get the lazier I get, so as big as he was, he was pretty lazy.”
According to Texas Parks and Wildlife, the current lake record is 41 pounds with rod and reel and 49 pounds on a so-called trot line or “jug line.”
A trot line is a system anglers use to set up floats connected to a string of lines and hooks with larger bait; left for hours and even days to attract bigger fish, and pulled in by hand or with a hand-crank device.
How he caught the record-breaking fish left a few fellow anglers scratching their heads at the notion of simply “reeling” in such a large fish.
However, Webb insists a “reel” expert can tackle anything.
“I caught it on a rod and reel with some shad (fish bait),” Webb revealed. “I had caught the bait in the fall and froze it and was able to use it and cut big chunks of it for my bait.”
“Bull shad,” also known as “gizzard shad” in reference to its size, is a bait fish which can grow as large as 8 to 9 inches long; a must for pulling in a larger catch.
On Dec. 23, park rangers at Inks Lake State Park weighed, measured and recorded Webb’s catch. He awaits the process of the state officially noting the record.
After documenting the record-breaking catch, Webb recorded what he found to be a “heart-breaking” moment the same day to share on social media.
“I wasn’t happy about releasing it, but I thought I was doing the right thing. . .for conservation. At one point I almost jumped back in to catch it,” he said. “It’s back in its home waters and living to be caught another day. Hopefully, it goes and hides out for a little while.”
Webb — who grew up in the area and typically fishes for crappie as well as catfish — admitted that he will probably fish even more now for a number of reasons.
“It’s just the peace, being outside, enjoying the lake and the surroundings,” he said. “Fortunately, God said it was my turn to catch a nice fish.”
He added he’s glad to reveal his fishing spot because one good catch deserves another.
“I don’t have a problem sharing (the fishing spot) because I’d rather see people enjoying the outdoors,” he said. “I tell them I was at Sandy Mountain Park in Sunrise Beach.”
Courtesy video of the release: