Sooner Surprise

By Tony Hughes


Dave Clark asked me to join him for a day Hybrid Striper catching on Sooner lake Oklahoma. I jumped at the opportunity for this mid week late November session to try and get our last licks in on Hybrids before the winter weather set in. Our day dawned cool and gray with rain predicted. Where to Dave asked? Having been on fish most of the fall I said lets go look around the dam, so away we went with Dave’s big Predator boat carrying us down the choppy lake. Arriving at our destination we began to graph around but didn’t see too many fish although we were marking bait. We decided to anchor along a 40’ contour as we rocked and rolled in the swell.  We started chumming and immediately began to catch some nice hybrids, this was pretty steady action with rain threatening back to our west. We had six rods out with down lined gizzard shad and were having a hard time keeping up as hybrid schools would roam thru and three or four rods would bow up. Due to the extreme clarity of the water we had downsized to six to 10# test line on light drag settings for the spinning rigs we were using. The action waxed and waned, the rain set in but the bite remained steady.  Dave grabbed for a rod that started going down, as he was picking it up he said, “I am hung up” to which I replied that there was no structure out where we were to hang on. I looked over my shoulder as Dave put a big bow in the light rod and it gave two huge snapping shakes, we both remarked in shocked unison “ that’s a fish”. I had caught some big fish in the area we were fishing so I said its probably a big blue cat or flathead.  Well it finally moved slowly off as the light spinning rig with 10# test began to annoy it. Dave kept his cool and applied all the pressure the 10# test line could stand. The unknown fish got a little more excited and began to run, the drag was singing and all we wanted to do was see what was on the other end. I moved around the boat and cleared all the rods we had out as a precaution. Good thing I did because the battle raged around the boat from front to back for what seemed like an eternity, but was actually around 30 minutes. Dave would gain some line, get the fish off the bottom and back it would go taking 30 yards again in this seesaw battle. Finally the big cat blew a bubble which is usually a good indication it was coming up. I was guessing it to be a 40-50# class fish before we ever laid eyes on the monster. I saw the big hulking shape in the gin clear water below the boat. Now I knew this was really going to be a bruiser. As I readied the oversized landing net, Dave managed to get the cat near the top. I took one look at the huge Blue catfish, as I swiped the net over its head in the rolling waves. The fish wouldn’t fit and was too heavy for me to lift (even with my adrenaline pumping) so Dave assisted by grabbing the hoop as we stuffed the fish in and rolled it into the boat. How big do you think Dave asked, as we exchanged a high five.  The digital 50# scale we had aboard pegged out but read 32# so I knew the load cell was maxxed out. I was estimating from 70 -90#, so we taped the length and got the girth. After applying the L x G/800 formula we came up with 82.68#. A Sooner lake record cat and just off the state record ! I wanted Dave to carry the fish to the Oklahoma aquarium, but being the true sportsman he was he decided to release it back in the water it came from. Had this been a springtime fish it would have weighed well into the 100# range. Truly a remarkable catch for ten pound test line, and not far off the all time IGFA record for this species. Way to go Dave !!! Its fun fishing with you.

Thanks Tony