On a spring break outing, H.R. Carver of Roxboro, NC, along with his sons Jack and Sam, set out to enjoy all that Kerr Lake had to offer — a rented cabin, hiking, and a guided fishing trip with Austin Sartin of Burlington, NC. Such adventures often create memories that last a lifetime, and this was no exception. Eight-year-old Sam caught a 100-pound blue catfish. 

On April 3, the Carvers boarded Sartin’s boat that morning with high hopes. Noting that the water temperature had risen into the upper 50s and that recent rains had brought the water level back up, Sartin decided that trolling would be the best method to catch catfish that were becoming mobile. At around .7 mph, he trolled an 8-rod spread. Four pulling planer boards, 2 with slip bobbers, and 2 bouncing on the bottom directly behind the boat — all fitted with Santee rigs consisting of a homemade slinky weight, a pegged cigar float, and an 8/0 to 10/0 Reaper offset circle hook from Hookers Terminal Tackle. They were using cut crappie and gizzard shad as bait.

“We were trolling right down the main channel ledge on the western side of the lake near the North Carolina and Virginia border; moving back and forth from the flats to the channel,” said Sartin (336-687-0519), who is a guide working in conjunction with Redbeard Cats Guide Service and Blues Brothers Catfish Guide Service. “We had caught 13 fish under 14 pounds or so up to that point. At about 2:30, we had a big fish hooked and I handed the rod to Jack. Before I could turn around, another rod went down, and I handed it to Sam.”

A few minutes into the fight, Jack’s fish came unbuttoned, but Sam’s remained tight. Realizing the size of the fish, Sartin helped brace the young man while keeping a hand on the Big Cat Fever rod in case of a sudden run. Sam held on for dear life, pumped the rod up and reeled in as he lowered it — following Sartin’s direction to a T.

“He did great,” said Sartin. “He reeled the whole thing in. He kept the rod bent and the line tight just like you should. The fish came up to the top and thrashed around the whole way. It didn't really take a lot of big runs. It just pulled hard and steady.”

The 40-pound Slime Line monofilament mainline and 40-pound Sufix monofilament leader did their job, concluding the fight in 5 to 6 minutes. Sartin scooped the fish into an oversized landing net and heaved it aboard. After it bottomed out his 100-pound spring scale, Sartin took the length and girth measurements as 53 inches by 39 inches and used them to calculate its weight, coming up with slightly over 100 pounds. The elated crew decided the fish would be better served by being released immediately, rather than hauling it in for an official weighing.  

Carver recalled his son as saying, “It was bigger than me in every way — and I’m 8! It has to be the world record for an 8-year-old kid!”