William Attaway of Pomaria has caught some big fish in his life, but he knew he was hooked into something special when he couldn’t get the rod out of the holder on Sunday morning, November 15. 

The big blue catfish weighed 90.7 pounds, and it literally fought and brawled to the end.

“I was fishing the annual fall catfish tournament out of Hill's Landing and had been catching a good number of 20-and-30-pound catfish on Lake Moultrie,” Attaway said. “I actually had my daily tournament limit of five fish already in the live well and was culling at 9:45 that morning when the rod buried four eyes deep into Lake Moultrie’s water. At first I couldn’t get the rod out of the holder and when I did, I could not budge the fish. But I could feel movement so I knew I wasn’t hung. I was just hooked into something special.”

Attaway (803-924-0857) is also a big guy and knew the fish was huge, but he had no idea just how big. Attaway guides on the Santee Cooper lakes, as well as lakes Monticello and Murray, specializing in catfish. 

“I put all the pressure I could without breaking the line and finally the big fish started working toward the boat,” he said. “I still felt a lot of resistance, and the fish made about four more major runs and I was just holding on, kinda slugging it out. The fish was in control most of the time. I have learned to be patient, and finally I maneuvered the fish to the boat and it went under the boat.  About that time I saw the bubbles, so I knew he’d be coming up soon. I had to lean way over and stick the rod deep into the water to ensure the line didn’t scrape the boat and break. About that time, I got a bit of luck and the wind puffed a bit and moved the boat just right so when the fish surfaced, it was right by the boat and I got the net under it quickly. In all, the battle lasted about 15 minutes and I was exhausted. And my buddy had to help me get the fish aboard.”

Attaway had to cull a pretty good fish to stay at five fish for the day and then headed toward Hills Landing.

When he arrived at the landing, Attaway found out the slugfest with the big catfish wasn’t over. The blue almost delivered a knockout punch.

“When I lifted him up out of the live well to take him to the scales, I had both hands on the grips lifting him and he started flopping,” Attaway said. “The grips came loose and pounded me in the face and I ended up with a black eye and bloody nose. 

“But I didn’t mind at all, it was just part of the adventure,” he said. “I got the last laugh when I did finally get him weighed on the tournament scales.”

Attaway caught the big catfish on a big bream head and was using white perch and gizzard shad as well. He said all those baits produced good fish.

Attaway caught all his catfish drift-fishing using 7-foot Ugly Stiks spooled with 40-pound test main line and a 50-pound test leader. He used 8/0 Gamakatsu circle hooks and a 1 ½-ounce slinky drift weight.

“I ended up with big fish in the tournament and my total weight of 262 pounds for the two day tournament was good for second place,” Attaway said. “But it’s the 90-pounder that I’ll remember most.”

The big fish was placed in tanks at Hills Landing to revive and was released back into the Diversion Canal that afternoon.