Bergton man reels in West Virginia record for largest channel catfish
ROCKINGHAM COUNTY, Va. (WHSV) - A man from Bergton has reeled in the biggest channel catfish in West Virginia’s history.
33-year-old Allen Burkett said he’s been fishing his whole life and tries to do it as often as he can.
“I’ve always worked night shift just so I could do this during the day times and morning times. I love spending my times outdoors,” Burkett said.
So, even though he was feeling a little under the weather on June 20, Burkett headed to South Mill Creek Lake in West Virginia and cast his line.
“We got there probably about 7 o’clock that evening. Tried to get there a little early and get a good spot. It’s usually pretty crowded there,” Burkett said.
After a few hours of no bites, Burkett decided it was time to start packing up.
“And then my pole shot up the stick... I thought it was stuck on a log or something, and then the drag took off. The fight was on from there,” Burkett said.
The fish went up the lake, around a tree and Burkett started taking everything out of his pockets, preparing to get in the water so his line wouldn’t break.
But thankfully, the fish turned around away from the tree.
After about 15 minutes of fighting with the fish, Burkett was finally able to pull the fish to shore. It was so big, that he needed to use both hands to get it on the bank.
“All my life I did a lot of catfishing, trout fishing, a lot of fishing period. I catch a lot of big fish, but I was due for a good one,” Burkett said.
He took the fish home and kept it in a big tote with water to try to keep it alive. The next day, Burkett called the state’s Department of Natural Resources to report his catch to see if he had broken the state record.
The channel catfish weighed in at 36.96 pounds and was 40.59 inches long. Burkett had broken the state record of 17 years, which was set by Michael Sears in 2005 at Patterson Creek. He caught a 33.42-pound channel cat that was 40.3 inches.
“I’ve put years and countless hours into it. It was a dream come true pulling in that fish,” Burkett said.
He says with time, and a little bit of chicken liver, you could pull in a winner, too.
“They’re out there. You just gotta put the time in. You can’t catch them if you’re not fishing for them,” Burkett said.
The fish was not able to be released back into the water, so Burkett fileted the fish and had enough to fill five-gallon bags.
He said he’s looking forward to catching an even bigger fish in the future.
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