Sept. 26, 2005
Is he a clairvoyant or just a darned good catfish angler?
|Brian Newberger's Record Flathead Catfish - NC WRC Photo
Late last year, Brian Newberger predicted to family and friends that
he would set a new state record for a
flathead catfish by the end of
2005. Shortly after midnight on Sept. 17, Newbergerís prediction
became a reality when the Fayetteville angler hauled in a 78-pound,
52-inch flathead from the Cape Fear River above Lock and Dam #3 in
Newberger landed his record-breaking fish using live eel as bait
and a Bass Pro Catmaxx rod and Penn Jigmaster reel spooled with
50-pound test Sufix line.
The monster flathead, which measured an impressive 39 inches in
girth, was no stranger to Newberger, an avid catfish angler and a
member of the Fayetteville-based Long Whiskers Catfish Club. He has
spent countless nights catfishing the Cape Fear River, watching and
waiting for the big fish to bite.
Heíd been down by these trees a long time and Iíve seen him feeding,
but Iíve never been able to nail him, Newberger said. Finally, I was
just at the right place at the right time.
Newberger spent 45 minutes getting the fish in the boat and into his
125-gallon live well, and another seven hours tending to it, waiting
for Riverside Sports Center in Fayetteville to open so he could have
it weighed on certified scales.
It was 1:00 in the morning nothing was open, Newberger said. So, I
stayed up with the fish all night, kept the pumps running and kept
fresh water on it. It didnít mind.
Once his fish was weighed on certified scales and verified by N.C.
Wildlife Resources Commission Biologist Keith Ashley, Newberger
released it unharmed back into the Cape Fear River shortly after 10
a.m., nearly 11 hours after it first hit the eel.
Iíve seen a lot of very large flathead catfish in my day but nothing
as big as this fish, Ashley said. To put it in perspective, we have
collected flatheads up to 40 pounds from Sutton Lake in Wilmington
and this fish was twice as large.
Could the recently released fish be another state record for another
day? Perhaps, although Newberger knows thereís a bigger one out
there waiting to be caught ó in July, he had an estimated
100-pounder up to his boat before it broke the line and got away.
I got him all the way to the boat but he was shallow-hooked in the
corner of the mouth, Newberger recalled. When I turned around to get
the net, he dove back down and popped the hook out.
While it was a disappointing end to an exhilarating fight, Newberger
remains optimistic about future fishing opportunities in the Cape
Fear, even going so far as to make another prediction.
Youíll hear from me again, he said. Iím going after the world record
now. Itís in the river.
The current world record flathead is a 123-pounder caught from Elk
City Reservoir in Kansas on May 14, 1998.
The previous North Carolina record weighed 69 pounds and was hauled
from the Cape Fear River by Edward C. Davis in July 1994.
To qualify for a state record, anglers must have caught their fish
on a hook and line, must have their fish weighed on a certified
scale witnessed by one observer, have the fish positively identified
by a qualified expert from the Wildlife Commission and submit an
application with a full, side-view photo of the fish. For a list of
all freshwater fish state records in North Carolina, visit the
Freshwater Fishing Records page.
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