The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Sports

June 27, 2012

Missouri fishermen land proof that state still has catfish of legend

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Don’t assume that all of the legendary catfish caught in Missouri came from the “good ol’ days.”

True, the Show Me State has a long history of producing huge cats. Riverboat captains on the Missouri and Mississippi rivers talk about fish as big as a man being reeled in.

But in a way, that history is still being written. Take it from Danny Calvert and Clay Smith, who both landed monstrous catfish in June - fish that turned back Missouri’s clock.

First, Calvert and his friend, Bill Gilmore, wrestled a 98-pound blue cat into the boat near La Benite Park on the Missouri River. Then Smith and his mother Gladys, struggled to lift a fighting 84-pound flathead into the boat where the Osage River feeds Truman Lake.

Both fish are proof that Missouri still has plenty of river monsters (as the title of a popular television show would say) living here.

“I doubt if I’ll ever have another day like that one,” said Calveret, 27, of Excelsior Springs. “We were excited enough to catch that 98-pounder. ”Then we go to the spot where we had put some bank lines out, and we caught a 67-pound flathead.

“I don’t know what was going on that day, but the big ones were feeding. Those were two fish of a lifetime on one trip.”

Not bad for a guy who was fishing the Missouri River for only the second time.

“I had been trying for the last three years to get a big one, but I couldn’t get past 20, 25 pounds,” Calvert said. “I had fished at Truman before that and we would always catch fish. But we could never bring a big one in.”

That changed when Calvert went with a friend who has a veteran at fish the Missouri River. By the time Calvert went out, he knew to set his trotlines on the current side of the wing dikes and to use large Koi and green sunfish. for bait.

When Calvert and Gilmore pulled up to the trotlines, they knew something big had taken one of the baits. The line was headed straight up river instead of downstream.

“When we got that fish in, it took up a lot of the boat,” Calveret said.

Little did he know that the boat was about to get a lot more crowded. When they pulled up to the bank lines, one of the poles was bent sharply.

They pulled the big flathead to the surface, and suddenly had two big passengers in their boat.

By the time Calvert had the fish weighed, they were already tourist attractions. Friends came by to gawk at the fish and dream of the day they would catch something like that.

“That was the trip of a lifetime,” Calvert said. “You just don’t catch two fish like that on the same day.”

Smith and his family also experienced the trip of a lifetime in early June when they went set trotlines near the point where the Osage River joins Truman Lake.

With his mother Gladys, daughter Caitlyn and son Carter in the boat, Clay was trying to bring back some of the magic of his youth.

“My uncle Duke would always take me out and we would set lines on the Osage, near where he farms,” said Clay, 35, who lives in Moberly. “I remember him catching some huge catfish, and he taught me a lot about how to do it.

“Still, I hadn’t caught anything better than 35 pounds. I knew they were in there, but I hadn’t caught them.”

Smiths luck changed when he pulled up to his trotline and saw one of the droplines stretched tight. He and his mom reached over, slowly worked the giant catfish to the surface and flopped it into the boat.

“When we finally got that fish up, everyone’s eyes got as big as dinner plates,” Clay said. “My daughter immediately yelled, ’That’s a goonch!’, which is a type of catfish (found in south and southeast Asia) that they showed being caught on ’River Monsters’ one night.”

But their story didn’t end there. A few hooks down on the trotline, they found a 40-pound blue catfish waiting.

“Before that day, I would have been excited to catch that blue cat,” Clay said. “What a great trip.

“I had an older guy come up to me and say, ’I didn’t think this ol’ river had that kind of catfish in it anymore.’ But I think there are more of these big ones out there than we realize. You just have to have everything go just right.”

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MISSOURI: where the big ones live

So, you think you have catfish big enough to brag about? Well, before you do, compare its size to these Missouri state records.

Blue catfish

Rod and reel: 130 pounds, caught July 20, 2010, on the Missouri River by Greg Bernal of Florissant, Mo.

Trotline: 117 pounds, caught July 25, 1964, on the Osage River by Azel Goans of Lowery City, Mo.

Flathead catfish

Rod and reel: 77 pounds, 8 ounces, caught April 29, 2003, at Montrose Lake by Scott Brown of Odessa, Mo.

Bank line: 99 pounds, caught July 23, 2010 on the Missouri River by Robert Neal Daivdson of Mokane, Mo.

Channel catfish

Rod and reel: 34 pounds, 10 ounces, caught Oct. 12, 1976, at Lake Jacomo by Gerald Siebenmorgen of Independence.

Bank line: 29 pounds, 14 ounces, caught July 28, 1974, on a farm pond by Monte Hoover of Pattonsburg, Mo.

 

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