Randy's Big Blue

by Stuart Schmitt

Randy and Colleen were fishing on Lake Ouachita around 10:00 pm, Tuesday, June 26.  Randy said, "I'll give them five more minutes to bite," as he lowered a big wad of his homemade dough bait into the water.  As soon as his bait hit the bottom in 12 feet of water he felt a tap-tap on the line.  When he leaned back to set the hook all hell broke loose.  His rod tip never came up as the fish charged away from the boat stripping line from the reel.  About 15 minutes later he finally horsed the fish near the boat to see it.  It became obvious that it wasn't going to fit in the net, but maybe they could get the head in enough to haul it in the boat.  Colleen got the net over the head of the fish and they both started lifting the fish when the dip net broke off at the pole.  It was a funny site seeing the big blue swimming around wearing the net on its head while they tried to figure out what to do next.

Then Colleen suggested trying to beach it on the shore. They untied the boat from the tree staub and tried to make it to the shore about 30 feet away.  The big blue proceeded to drag the boat around the tree several times before they could get the boat headed toward the shore.  When they got near the shore, Randy jumped in the water and was able to scoot the big blue up on the bank with his feet.  With it safely on land the next problem was how to get it in the boat.  Randy took a rope and shoved it through the mouth and out the gills of the big blue with the broken dip net handle.  With the rope tied securely around the blue it was all they could do to pull it into the bow of the boat.  They then headed back to the boat dock at Shangri La Resort.

Randy tried to call his friend Stu on the cell phone to get help but he was asleep and didn't answer the phone.  When they got to the dock they decided to go get Stu out of bed to help with the fish.  It was around 11:00 pm when they all got back to the boat and were trying to figure out what to do with the fish.  Stu suggested that Randy take the boat around to the marina while he went to the lodge to see if he could get some help.  Stu found Larry and Becky Carr awake and Larry went with Stu to the dock to see the fish.  Larry suggested putting the fish in a big wash tub and icing it down in their walk-in cooler for the night.  Great idea!  With the fish safely tucked away for the night Randy and Colleen went to Stu's house to make plans for what to do in the morning.  They suspected it might be a state record.

On Wednesday morning Stu picked up the fish at Shangri La where it was getting plenty of attention from the guests.  He borrowed a spring scale that would weigh up to 100 pounds from his neighbor, Joe.  Joe and Stu then attempted to weigh the fish as the spring scale stretched to 93 pounds.  They also found out that the state record for a blue cat was 96 pounds.  With the uncertain accuracy of the spring scale it was decided to call Arkansas Game & Fish to get an official weight on the fish.  About three hours later everyone showed up at the Mount Ida Post Office for the official weigh in.  Wildlife officer Philip Abernathy supervised the weighing which was quite an ordeal.  Getting the fish out of the tub and dragging it through the post office was a messy task.  Finally the fish was placed in a tray on the new digital scale.  The scale read 93.1 pounds.  When the tray was subtracted the official weight became 88.9 pounds.  Since the fish had been out of the water for almost 13 hours, everyone thought it could have been a new state record if it could have been weighed shortly after being caught.  Oh well, it was still a big fish at 52 inches long and a belly girth of 36 inches.

Randy caught the blue on an 8.5 foot ocean rod with a Zebco 5050 real and new (that day) 50 pound test Spiderwire line.  He bought the rod and reel at a garage sale for $15 several weeks earlier.  The bait was a combination of home made dough bait mixed with Catfish Charlie Blood Baiit.  The fish will be mounted at a cost of around $500 by Terry's Taxidermy in Oklahoma City.  It will take about one year before the fish will be ready to display at Shangri La Resort.

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