103-pound catfish caught in Ocmulgee by Warner Robins man

WARNER ROBINS — Tom Head of Warner Robins has a tale to tell.

And unlike many fish stories, this one is absolutely true, according to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.

Head, 76, caught a 103-pound flathead catfish in the Ocmulgee River on Tuesday. The fish measured 57 inches long and more than 41 inches in girth, according to a DNR news release.

The way he tells his fish tale, he was up early, motoring up the Ocmulgee in his 14-foot boat, as is his custom.

“I was acknowledging God and all of his creation and talking to him,” Head said. “I wasn’t expecting to catch anything.”

Head, who said he was feeling tired, said he thought Tuesday would be his last day of fishing for the year.

He had six lines out and was checking each and finding nothing, the live bream he was using for bait still swimming. Then he checked line six and knew he had a fish.

The water was 18- to 20-feet deep and he didn’t realize at first just how big a fish he had.

Once he fought the monster catfish to the boat, it was so big it wouldn’t fit into his dip net. He said a fish will give up when it is in the dip net.

“As long as he’s out of that dip net, he’s still a-fighting,” Head said.

So he put on a big glove and reached down and grabbed the fish’s mouth and pulled him into the boat with him.

To his surprise, the big fish didn’t put up a fight.

The fish just rolled into the boat with him.

“He was just gentle and calm,” Head said.

Strength renewed, Head said he may just have to go fishing a few more times this year.

While a massive catch, the fish is not a new state record.

“Even though this fish beats the current flathead catfish state record weight by 20 pounds, it was caught using a method called ‘jug fishing’ that is not considered eligible for state record status,” the release said. “To be eligible, it must be landed using sport fishing tackle. ... Bush hooks, trot lines, jugs, baskets, nets, etc., while popular methods of fishing, are not considered sporting tackle.”

To catch such a fish, the DNR recommended a large spinning or casting tackle with at least a 20- to 50-pound test line with heavy weights to hold the bait at the bottom. Live goldfish, bream and shiners make the best bait, the release said.

Head caught his big fish using live bream on a tuna hook.

To contact writer Becky Purser, call 256-9559.