A Davidson County kindergarten student is a world-record holder after the International Game Fishing Association certified his catch of a 28-pound, 8-ounce flathead catfish in July at High Rock Lake as the world record for that species in the 50-pound line class.
Luke Harvell, 5, of Lexington, caught the fish at around 1 a.m. on July 19, fishing with his father, Ricky, close to the NC 8 boating access area of High Rock.
The younger Harvell hooked the fish on a live bream and subdued it after a 6 1/2-minute fight on tackle that his father had set up specifically for a record, using a Berkley rod, Shakespeare reel spooled with 50-pound test Ande line, threaded through an egg sinker attached to a leader of 50-pound mono — essentially, a Carolina rig.
Ricky Harvell had noticed that the IGFA record in the 50-pound class was less than 20 pounds, in contrast to huge fish that occupied most of the other line-class record slots. He and his son fished once a week for three weeks, specifically to try and set the record, and they finally got a bite on their third try.
“I saw that the 50-pound record was about 16 pounds, and that’s why we decided to fish for it,” he said. “That’s what we were trying for.
“We had moved around a lot, fishing different places, and the place we caught him was our last spot. We were fishing close to the Highway 8 ramp, about halfway between the ramp and the bridge. We were there about 30 minutes before he bit.
“The fish bit, and Luke picked up the rod, then he put it back down,” Ricky Harvell said. “Then, he hit it again, and he got it.”
Luke Harvell, who attends Northwest Elementary School, initially had trouble controlling the big fish, in part because the drag on his spinning rod was set too tight. His father coached him to loosen the drag while filming the entire battle, making sure he didn’t violate IGFA rules by giving his son any assistance.
“He was struggling because the drag was set too tight,” Ricky Harvell said. “At one point, he was telling me that his back hurt, but I couldn’t touch the rod and help him.”
After close to six minutes, Luke Harvell finally got the fish off the bottom where he’d hooked it in 13 feet of water and brought it up close enough to the boat where he and his father could see it.
“When he saw the fish, he said, ‘It’s a monster! It’s a monster!’” said Ricky Harvell, who netted the fish 30 seconds later and hoisted it aboard his boat. He took plenty of photos, got the fish weighed on certified scales and submitted a record application with the IGFA.
The fish was 40 1/2 inches long and had a girth of 24 inches.
Harvell said his son has told him he wants to fish in the Bassmaster Classic, and when he caught a 40-pound flathead, Luke said he was going to catch one as big as his father’s fish and “use it for bait.” ■
To see a video of Luke Harvell catching his line-class world record flathead catfish this past summer, visit www.facebook.com/TheIGFA/videos/10153562994358112/