Six-year-old Lindsey Edge of Laurel Hill, N.C. caught a 71-pound blue catfish on May 10 at the base of the Blewett Falls Dam in the Pee Dee River at Norwood, N.C. Few anglers ever catch or even see a fish this big in person. But, it happened for Edge, who spends many hours with her father, Ira Edge on the water every year.
“She has been going to the river with me ever since she was two-years-old,” he said. “We were supposed to go the day before, but she wasn’t up to it and we ended up catching 10 fish between 20 and 50 pounds. I had to take her the next day because I know that she would have loved it.”
Ira Edge has fished this river for over 20 years, and he knew from experience that since they stopped pulling water at the dam that Wednesday, the next few days would be good.
“When they cut the water off, the shad move up the river and stop at the dam. The big catfish follow them up to the dam,” he said.
“I have been fishing with my dad here ever since I was 10 years old and I am 34 now. We have caught tons of big fish over the years, but nothing ever any bigger than a 62-pound flathead,” he said.
As soon as Ira got off work, he picked up Lindsey and took her to the river with boat in tow. He quickly caught a net-full of gizzard shad and deployed his rod set up that included several rods rigged with slip bobbers and a combination of live and cut bait suspended off the bottom in the deep holes at the dam.
After fishing for over an hour, Ira Edge heard the drag peeling off one of his rods. He pulled it out of the rod holder, set the hook, and handed the rod to Lindsey. And then the battle began!
“I was trying to video her pulling in the fish until the fish made it to the surface and then I realized what she had. I threw my phone down in the boat and went for the net,” he exclaimed.
As soon as she saw the fish, she also realized how big it was and panicked.
“Daddy, daddy, he is too big for me,” she said.
But, her father quickly supported her and gave her some advice. She continued to fight the beast, but in an unorthodox manner that seemed to work perfectly.
“She pulled back on the rod and would walk back at the same time. And when she got some room, she would walk back forward to reel the slack back on the reel. After a while, she had that fish back to the surface,” he said. “She wore him out and he could hardly flap anymore.”
He put as much of the fish in the net as he could and lifted the rest of the fish into the boat.
Her 71-pound monster was the only fish they caught all afternoon, but it was a true trophy that neither one of them will ever forget.