- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 27, 2009

For the next several weeks, the lives of Tim Wilson and Danny Ayers won’t be quite the same. They will be the talk of Natural Bridge, Va., after landing a 102 1/4-pound blue catfish in the quiet waters of the upper tidal James River, not far from downtown Richmond.

The huge blue catfish is the biggest of its kind yet caught on sporting tackle in the Old Dominion, although it’s not certain exactly how the State Record Fish Committee will handle the fact that it took two men to bring the monster “cat” to shore.

Under normal circumstances, whenever a record is applied for, only the person who holds the rod can fight the fish. No one may touch the equipment or lend assistance until the beginning of the leader line (if one was used) goes through the tip of the rod and/or the line is close enough for a boat mate (if the angler is aboard a boat) to grab it and assist in bringing in the fish. Those are only part of the rules of the International Game Fish Association, which handles world records; perhaps the state of Virginia doesn’t care about such things as long as a record is broken with a rod and reel.

The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries said its record committee is reviewing the certification of this potential state record. It would be the first confirmed freshwater-record fish weighing more than 100 pounds. The catfish measured 52 inches in length and had a 41-inch girth.

Wilson and Ayers came to the Dutch Gap area of the James River specifically to fish for the blue catfish that the waterway is justly famous for. They used 30-pound test line and cut shad bait.

The previous blue catfish record of 95 pounds, 11 ounces was hooked and landed by Archie Gold of Jetersville, Va., in June 2006. Many others in the 30- to 60-pound range have been caught in the James over the years. The presence of the bottom-feeding brutes has resulted in several catfish-guiding businesses.

Should you require a guide, here are three U.S. Coast Guard-licensed catfish captains: Eberwein’s Catfishin’, Chris Eberwein, 804/449-6134, www.catfishingva.com; Fat Cat Guide Service, Joe Hecht, 804/221-1951, www.fatcatguide.com; James River Catfishing Guide Service, Kevin Salmon, 804/991-2319, www.jrcgs.com

Fishing line recycling program - The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries and the Virginia Marine Resources Commission have launched a monofilament fishing line recycling program. The two agencies will install PVC pipe recycling containers at a number of lakes, rivers and coastal waters.

Besides causing damage to boat motor props, monofilament fishing line can entangle aquatic animals and birds. There are 50 recycling containers that are ready to be installed across the state. The used monofilament line will be shipped to Pure Fishing America, the parent company of Berkley fishing line, where the line will be melted down and remolded into various products, including fishing line spools, tackle boxes and fish habitat structures. Groups interested in participating in the fishing line recycling program can contact Ron Southwick at 804/367-1292 or [email protected]

Potomac smallmouth club meetsThe Potomac River Smallmouth Club meets at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Vienna fire station on Center Street. The public is invited to attend and hear Chris D. Dollar, the owner of CD Outdoors. Dollar fishes, hunts and explores the Chesapeake Bay and its coastal waters throughout the year, taking clients out in kayaks for backwater fishing for rockfish, bluefish, gray and speckled trout and red drum. He also uses a 23-foot boat and specializes in light tackle fishing anywhere from the Susquehanna Flats to the Bay Bridge area. For more information, contact [email protected]

• Look for Gene Mueller’s Outdoors column Sunday and Wednesday and his Fishing Report on Thursday, only in The Washington Times. E-mail: [email protected] Mueller’s Inside Outside blog can be found at www.washingtontimes.com/ sports.

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