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The Lufkin News

Huntington man, teen haul in 78-pound op catfish

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Posted: Wednesday, February 25, 2009 12:00 am

The op catfish Mike Neal pulled out of the water with the help of several other men weighed 78 lbs. The Sam Rayburn record for an op is 84 lbs. Neal said he and 15-year-old Dane Bennett were running a trotline. While they were taking another fish off the line, the boat took off in the water from the big catfish pulling it. "It ran 20 feet of line out of our hands twice before we got it tired out," Neal said. In the 30 years he's fished on the lake Neal said the biggest fish he ever caught before this one weighed 66 lbs. He said a fish weighing between 40 and 60 lbs is considered a big fish. "I've caught some big fish, but never one like this," Neal said. "This is just a monster." The fish is 52 inches long with a tail span that 13 inches wide. Neal said a fish that large could easily hurt a human. One of the biggest dangers to a fisherman is to hold on to the line. "You have to let him go," Neal said. "He could run a hook into your hand. This one dove twice before he'd calmed down enough to get a net around him." Neal said fishing has been his passion for a long time. He goes fishing every day during fishing season. "My biggest secret is to go fishing," Neal said. "You have to go catch them." After catching the 78-pounder, Neal drug the fish to the house of his pastor, also a fisherman, so he could skin it there. His pastor took one look at the size of the fish and just said, "Oh boy!" When asked what he planned to do with the 78 lbs. of fish, Neal had one obvious answer: "Eat it." Mike Neal of Huntington caught this 78-pound catfish at Sam Rayburn Reservoir Monday. The fish weighed just 6 pounds less than the record of 84 pounds Contributed photo

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