Angler was fishing for bass out of Black’s Camp
Jason Cribb of Hanahan, S.C. caught a 77.1-pound Arkansas blue catfish at Santee Cooper this past Wednesday, Oct. 30. He was targeting largemouth bass when he caught the big fish on a live herring in 20 feet of water.
Cribb was fishing with his friend Thomas Hole, who recently moved to South Carolina after retiring from the military.
“Thomas moved in from Arkansas and had been asking me to take him fishing. I knew immediately we needed to head to Black’s Camp to get him on the striper bite which has been on fire. I was certain we would have our string pulled. And although I know Santee Cooper is loaded with giants, I never expected to reel in the catfish of a lifetime,” said Cribb.
Hole secured the trophy with a net they borrowed from a passing angler. That was after a failed attempt to barehand the fish aboard, which led to a 45-minute fight to get the fish back into netting range.
Before sunrise, Cribb and Hole were working an area for bass on a popular fishing spot. Some other boats were in the area, and the bite was slow. But things picked up quickly when Cribb’s bait enticed the catfish into biting.
Santee Cooper teamwork comes into play
“It was early. We were fishing for largemouth bass, and hadn’t had much luck. I sent down a live herring. It wasn’t down long before the fish hit. I set the hook and it was on,” said Cribb. “When I felt it hit, it took the bait hard. I knew it wasn’t a bass. All I could do was let him run.”
Missing the all-important fishing net, and already having failed at one attempt to manhandle the fish aboard, Cribb coaxed the fish as gently as possible back to the surface. Meanwhile, he called Kevin Davis of Black’s Camp for some backup. Davis had passed by earlier with a camera crew, and Cribb was sure Davis had a net.
Davis rushed to Cribb’s aid. Unfortunately, his net wasn’t big enough to handle the catfish. But in pure Santee Cooper fashion, teamwork saved the day. Another boat, this one from Angel’s Landing, stopped to offer assistance. It was Al Jones, and he had a large landing net. He passed it to Davis, who passed it to Hole. And with a camera crew from Carolina Tradition capturing video of the battle, Hole became the man of the hour, with the potential to become either a hero or a zero — and with the cameras rolling. He scooped the catfish into the net, then hoisted it aboard with a hand from Cribb.
The anglers celebrated with a high five, then decided to head back to Black’s Camp to weigh the fish and get it in their oxygen-rich bait tank to revive it. The scale registered 77.1 pounds.
Cribb didn’t want to see this trophy fish go to waste, so he made a few phone calls, and after some discussion, the SCDNR arranged to transport the fish to Cypress Gardens, where it can be observed by visitors for many years to come.
“It was an incredible experience. I appreciate all of the fine people that helped us make it happen, and I can’t wait to get back on the water to go fishing in Santee Cooper again,” said Cribb.