Within 10 minutes of starting a two-day catfish tournament on the Missouri River near Atchison, Kansas, a pair of anglers hooked a monster of a cat that pulled drag and bent a heavy rod nearly double.
Craig Norris of Meriden was on the rod, and following an exhausting fight, he landed the oversize, pot-bellied blue catfish that weighed 87.3-pounds—his biggest ever.
But Norris and fishing partner Tyson Burnett of Council, Kansas, were far from being done, according to a report from KSNW-TV, a Wichita NBC affiliate.
The duo ran their boat a few miles down the Missouri to another favorite spot, and 10 minutes later, just before 7 p.m., Norris hooked a second giant catfish. After another epic fight, the fish tired, they worked it to their boat, and brought aboard a 70-pound blue catfish.
They talked about making the 90-minute boat run back to the weigh-in station, but as they were preparing the boat for the ride, another bait rod was jolted by a third big cat, and soon a 27-pounder was hauled aboard.
They returned to Atchison to weigh their catch, which officially tallied 184.3 pounds. They then returned to their boat, ran to a proven Missouri River catfish hole, set out baited rods, and decided to get some sleep as day turned to night.
At 2 a.m. they were awakened by sound and thumping from one of their set rods, as it was doubled over and a big fish was taking line. After a grueling fight, they boated another heavy catfish that weighed 63-pounds.
They now had 247.3 pounds of catfish for the local PBSS Flathead Club tournament, a local group that’s been running catfish events on the Missouri River in Northeast Kansas for 20 years. But they wanted to weigh over 300 pounds for the event. That happened at 7 a.m. when they landed a 54-pound blue catfish, bringing their total aggregate weight to 301.3 pounds.
“It just got to the point where I said ‘I can’t believe this is happening,’” Norris told KSNW-TV. “We got five bites and caught five fish.”
The fishing team won the event, pocketing $3,054.50 for their efforts. Their catch was 121 pounds more than the next best fishing team, leaving the winning anglers a bit stunned.
“It felt pretty good,” Norris said. “Really, I didn’t think we’d made it over 300. But when we did, we were excited about it. That’s pretty big. I don’t know how to explain it, but I don’t think it’ll ever be beaten again.
“Just spending time on the water can help,” Norris said. “You may not be catching anything but you’re still learning. There’s days I go out there, I may not get a bite but I’ll still learn something from it.”