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My monster catfish story

June 15, 2020 | Comment icon 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 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 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 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 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 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 he stepped off the width of the 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 I Christian I'll swear any day on a stack of bibles that every detail of this story is 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!

Comments (26)

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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #17 Posted by Dustyrose33 4 years ago
I do like bass and talapia.   Several years ago caught some great tasting bass out of Lake Texoma in Oklahoma.   Put them in a pressure cooker till the fish fell off the bones, then made the fish into patties and fried them like salmon patties.   Sure were good.
Comment icon #18 Posted by and then 4 years ago
I saw some photos at a fishing camp on the Tensaw river in Alabama that had several catfish hung from a pole with men standing in front of them.  They were longer than the height of the men.  The clothing dated the pics to turn of the century so average height was less than today but the fish's heads were bent on the ground while the tails were just a bit higher than the tallest guy there.  
Comment icon #19 Posted by Dustyrose33 4 years ago
Those were some big fish!
Comment icon #20 Posted by Dustyrose33 4 years ago
So true, yes, radiation
Comment icon #21 Posted by Nnicolette 4 years ago
Same exact story at lake britton dam.
Comment icon #22 Posted by The Unseen 4 years ago
I fish that lake
Comment icon #23 Posted by joc 4 years ago
when I was  a  kid my grandfather lived on Grand Lake (Lake of the Cherokees)  in Grove, Oklahoma.  His next door neighbor harpooned a 40 pound catfish under his dock while snorkeling.   That lake dropped off 40 feet just off of the shore line.   I have seen Koi in a little neighborhood lake 3 feet long.  Also in a Texas drought.
Comment icon #24 Posted by Sakari 4 years ago
This is a different version of the many legends out there. Google this. "Giant Catfish seen at Dam during work", or similar to that. In Nevada, I heard a "true story" about Rypatch reservoir. Workers were diving to clear debris from the dam. One touched what he thought was a very large log, and the log moved. Heard this one in around 1979. Fast forward to Oregon, 2010. Hear an almost identical story, only the log was a Volkswagon Beetle that they were removing. And it swam away. (Giant catfish) Arizona, 2015. San Carlos Reservoir. Again, debris being removed. Giant catfish. In all 3 stories th... [More]
Comment icon #25 Posted by Sakari 4 years ago
I caught a 6 foot Sturgeon in the Rogue river. It was actually 1/4 inch short of 6 feet, and to this day I regret not throwing it back. This was around 1990. I have a pic, but this forums picture size is a joke, and it will not post. Even back than, you can only keep one, and it had to be larger than 48", and smaller than 72" to keep. Everything else goes back. They are prehistoric fish. Live well into their 100's. Not a lot known about them. They do go from the rivers to the oceans, and back in again. They are not sure why, or for how long.
Comment icon #26 Posted by HollyDolly 4 years ago
That's a big  one none the less. Did you  have it mounted, or did you eat it. They can be eaten and in the past people would  smoke them just as they do salmon.Never have seen any monster catfish myself, but have heard the stories.I think I remember the story of the divers at Canyon Lake. We would go fishing mainly as a kid to Blanco State park, north of San Antonio, but mainly we caught perch and sunfish. My dad would take them home, and he'd cook them up for the family.

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