My monster catfish story
June 15, 2020 | 26 comments
Image Credit: US Army Corps of Engineers
This story was submitted to the site by Colt86 from Dallas texas.
This is my monster catfish story that occurred in the summer of 1995. It was on the old lake dallas damn near little elm texas..there was a severe drought that summer..back before Sept 11 and the new laws that followed you could walk the damn...lake dallas is an old lake filled in 1927 I believe and fed by the trinity river...me and my father had always went out and "treasure hunted" old bottles..indian artifacts..fossils..anything interesting really..the lake was down drastically that summer exposing the dam all the way to right at the lake floor...we had been told stories by old timers that in the early days of the lake this was the area people from dallas would congregate in their boats regularly to fish..drink..have fun. So we went out looking for anything old and interesting we might find exposed by the drought..
We went out one day and it was quite a treasure hunt. We found 1930's soda bottles by the dozens..some still unopened..old lure..more old anchors than we could carry..even a 1914 boat motor in surprisingly good condition. We had such a good time we made plans to come back for the following weekend.
That next weekend I couldn't have been more excited to see what we might discover this time..and it turned out surprised would be an understatement. I had always heard stories of huge flathead catfish and enormous alligator gar in the lake..like anyone who grows up near an old lake in texas does. My father had reiterated stories to me told to him by his grandfather who used to noodle for catfish in the elm fork of the trinity river in denton county back around the turn of the century. Apparently one day he stuck his arm in hole and had it grabbed by what he said was at least a 200 pound flathead catfish. It came out of the hole and drug him around for several minutes nearly drowning him and permanently partial disabling and disfiguring his arm for life. I of course believed them But as far separated as I was they might as well have been old ghost stories.
Back to this summer weekend..we parked near the damn and started walking the top looking down for anything interesting..there had apparently been a small rain somewhere because the water was up a bit just short of lapping at the base of the damn. We had only walked about 2 minutes when I see what from my vantage point about 80 feet high looks to be a dead human body washed up on the base of the dam..I pointed out to my father and we immediately started descending the damn to get a closer look..its large boulders and somewhat difficult to traverse but as I was making our way down I became aware whatever this was was a monochromatic grey color and too large to be a human body.. we couldn't take a path strait to it but eventually made it to the bottom about 50 yards from the object..as we started walking towards it I realized it was and enormous dead fish..and as we got up to it saw that it was a flathead catfish..
And when I say enormous I mean enormous I mean truly enormous...multiple times larger than any i or my father had ever seen before..it appeared to have been dead maybe a day or two..there didn't seem to have any damage to it I could see..not boat prop Marks or anything..I can only assume it must have died of old age or something..it did not stink and had not began to decompose or bloat yet..we were truly in shock at the size and decided to measure it the best we could..
My fathers size 11 shoe was exactly 12 inches long..so he stepped off the width of the mouth..it was 28 inches wide..the widest point of the head was 2 to 3 inches wider than the mouth so about 35 inches just behind the eyes..which I might add were the size of large saucers..the fish was oriented very stair so my father stepped its length off..it was just over 8 feet..but I guess small f iij should or turtle's had eaten the tail off all the way up to the flesh..if the tail was in proportion to other flathead I have caught I would estimated it would have been close to two feet longer if not missing...
With the water up and not much to find we headed home. We made plans to return the next day with a camera and tape measure so we could tell this story and actually have people believe us..lol..that night we got the first real rain of the summer just north of us..when we returned that following morning the water had risen probably 2 or 3 feet and the fish was nowhere to be found..I guess it had further bloated in the 105 degree weather and had floated off with the risen water..so that meant no pictures were going to be had..
It remains today one of the most vivid memories and exciting discoveries of my childhood. I wish we had had gotten a picture..too bad there weren't camera phones in 95..at least when we tell the story..which I rarely do because its usually met with skeptisim. Me and my father at least have each other to corroborate it..having since seen photos and read info on giant Mekong catfish and big Welsh catfish and the gooch in india..as well as other very large flathead that are caught in rivers on occasion..I have come to the estimate that with its length and the absolutely huge girth of its belly..it must have been eating very well..that it must have weighed 450-500 pounds when alive..possibly even more..the belly on it must of weighed over 100 pounds alone..I would a few years later watch a 98 pound blue cat get snagged and landed at the lake Texoma spill way that you could if used as bait to fish for that flathead with..you dont think of there being man eating size fish in a recreational lake in the middle of a 9 million person metroplex but I will swear till the day I die there is..or at least was..that was 25 years ago..who knows if theres any giants like that left..I'm 6 foot 195 and I know my shoulders are less than 28 inches wide...as I Christian I'll swear any day on a stack of bibles that every detail of this story is true..my father remembers the details of this story lock step with me...
Just thought this might be an interesting tale for yall to read..amazingly this is not the most impressive encounter I had of a giant aquatic animal growing up in north texas..maybe I'll tell that story another time..thanks for reading my story..I hope you enjoyed it!