Steve and Paula Haney of Anderson, S.C., knew they were in for a fight when Paula set the hook on a big blue catfish while drifting a spread of cut baits on the lower end of Lake Moultrie this past Saturday. What they didn’t know is that the fish on the line would later be crowned South Carolina’s newest state record, a 113.8-pound blue that surpassed the previous record by more than 4 pounds.
“I’ve been fishing down here since I was 9 years old; I’m 59 now,” said Steve Haney. “My wife, Paula, has been fishing with me about 15 years. We catch a lot of good fish, but nothing like this one.”
On a flat that ranged from 7 to 10 feet deep, adjacent to deeper water, Haney and his wife threw out a drift sock that morning to control their speed. Then, they deployed five rods, some carrying a hunk of cut river herring, others a whole blueback herring 3 to 4 inches long.
After several hours of fishing, one of those little bluebacks caused all the ruckus.
“I was sitting on one of the coolers in the boat,” Paula Haney said, “because i like to be close to my rod. The one right beside me went down; I knew it was something big. It really bent the rod down. I just grabbed it out, jerked it up, and reared back. It was on there.”
“It made four or five big runs,” Steve Haney said, describing the 10- to 15-minute fight. “I saw it come up, and I knew what kind of fish it was. I told her not to look at the fish, because I didn't want her to get tore up.”
As the fish finally tired and came up beside the boat, the Haneys found that their landing net wasn’t big enough. Steve Haney tried to scooped the fish up headfirst but changed his mind when he realized that 75 percent fish was outside of the net. Instead, he dipped the net under the fish’s tail and folded enough of it in then net that he and his wife could both get a handful of net and lift it aboard.
With the fish safely aboard, the Haneys trailered their boat and headed to Hill’s Landing in Cross to get an official weight. The fish was put in a 2,000-gallon live-bait tank, and after it was weighed and measured that night by S.C. Department of Natural Resources biologists and certified as the state record, efforts were made to revive the fish to release it alive, but the fish died several hours later.
The fish, which was 52 inches long and 40 inches in girth, was more than 4 pounds bigger than the previous state-record blue, a 109-pound, 4-ounce fish caught in 1991 in the Tailrace Canal by George A. Lijewski of Summerville, S.C.
Paula Haney caught the fish on an American Spirit Rod, mated to an ABU Garcia 6500 reel spooled with 30-pound Cajun mono. The Haneys were fishing Santee rigs on 50-pound mono leader with a 1½-ounce homemade slinky weight, a cork to float the bait off the bottom, and a 7/0 Gamakatsu hook.