When guide Robbie Burr of Wadesboro prepares for a catfish charter, he gives his clients the choice of filling their coolers with eating-size fish or spending the day chasing trophies, and that decision tells him where they’re fishing. While angling for magnum cats usually means a trip to to the Pee Dee River, his party got the best of both worlds on February 8th when client Craig Bennett of North Wilkesboro caught and released an unexpected 70-pound blue catfish in Burr’s fish fry honey hole, Blewett Falls Lake.
“It’s full of 5- to 20-pound blues,” said Burr (704-695-2587), who runs Pee Dee Fishing Adventures. “If you catch one 30- or 40-pounds, it’s usually a flathead.” That’s exactly what Burr and his party thought they had on the other end of the doubled rod.
“A lot of times, blues will make a hard run and then come up to the top and roll,” said Burr. “But, this one did completely the opposite. He did a steady pull to the bottom like a flathead would.”
Bennett, who was up to bat when the fish bit, was impressed by it’s strength. “It kind of shocked him,” said Burr. “He thought he might be hung, but I knew the fish was on there. We were a little confused because of the way it fought, but once we got him close to the boat, he came up and we saw that it was a blue.”
Despite Burr’s use of heavy gear designed for large catfish, he said that the fish still put up quite a fight. “I use 100-pound Power Pro braided line and tie my leaders with 80-pound monofilament line, but the fish still pulled. It probably took 5- to 10-minutes to get him in; it was a pretty good struggle. I’ve seen others that fought harder, but the water’s pretty cold right now.”
With its energy spent, Bennett’s prize waived the white flag of surrender and laid on it’s side, awaiting capture. It then took a short ride in Burr’s enormous landing net, where it was cradled for a picture before being released to put a smile on someone else’s face.
“Right now, the fish are on the main channel ledges that drop off into the old river bed,” said Burr. “The ledge we were fishing was about 20-feet deep and it falls off to about 30-feet. I anchor up in the deep water and throw the baits out on the ledge. I’ll fancast six to eight rods.”
Burr rigs his rods with what is commonly known as a Santee rig, using a 2-ounce weight and a 2-foot leader, with a cork between the swivel and the hook. He finishes it off with a fresh piece of cut gizzard shad on an 8/0 Gamakatsu circle hook.