West Virginia angler catches state record with near 70-pound blue catfish – Outdoor News
Angler Michael John Drake has left his mark on West Virginia’s fishing history by securing the state’s record blue catfish with a remarkable catch in December 2023. Drake’s solo fishing expedition near Gallipollis yielded a blue catfish weighing an impressive 69.45 pounds, surpassing the previous state record by more than 2 pounds.
According to Drake, the Mustad Demon circle hook, renowned for its Opti-Angle needle point technology, played a pivotal role in catching the fish. Demon circle hooks from Mustad ensure prolonged sharpness for optimal penetration, complemented by Nor-Tempering technology that guarantees unparalleled strength.
Drake, a frequent visitor to the Ohio River, acknowledged the allure of chasing state records.
“That’s about all I fish for,” he said. “If I’m not catfishing, then I’m catching bait for catfish.”
This marks the fourth time in as many years that the West Virginia state record for blue catfish has been broken.
As the 40-pound monofilament mainline peeled off the Abu Garcia 6500, Drake knew a potential record was on the other end.
“I’ve caught a lot of fish in the 45- to 50-pound range, and when they hit, they’ll pull some drag,” he said. “When this one hit, it smoked my reel. It let me know really quickly that it had some shoulders on it.”
The innovative design of Demon circle hooks helps ensure a higher hookup ratio and reduces the likelihood of gut-hooking.
“I like to let all my fish go so I try to return them just as healthy as they when they came in the boat,” Drake said. “With the Demon circle hook, I rarely if ever gut hook a fish. It’s always a perfect set in the corner of the mouth.”
Drake employed a 10/0 Demon circle hook along with fresh gizzard shad, utilizing a Carolina rig with a 24-inch, 80-pound-test monofilament leader.
The 50.51-inch blue catfish engaged in a spirited 20-minute battle from the hookset to the net. With a G3 Sportsman 200 equipped with a cavernous 65-gallon livewell, Drake kept the fat cat alive onboard while making a few quick phone calls.
Soon after speaking with Virginia Department of Natural Resources hatchery manager Ryan Bosserman, Drake’s blue cat was weighed and measured on the nearby riverbank, and then safely released back into the Ohio River.