01/20/04 - Athens
Record Catfish Makes New Home in East Texas
She is the largest blue catfish that has been caught in Texas... any class," says Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center biologist Genie Hilton.

It's the big catch... a museum piece... or fifty fish dinners, depending on how you look at it. She doesn't have a name yet, but for the man who caught it, it's made a name for him.

Cody Mullennix reeled in the big one on Lake Texoma.

"I saw [my reel] going down. I grabbed it. Now, I've caught a 60 pounder before..." he says.

But he got 121 pounds of catfish with a 14 foot rod and 20 pound test line. Cut shad was the bait.

"It's what I do in my spare time. Landing the big one was nice, but I like fishing for the big blues."

East Texas Angler Host Barry Hanson: "That's why we fishermen go. There's always a larger one out there, but whether anyone will ever catch it? There are a lot of people with a lot of fish stories."

Now this living legend is resting -- de-stressing as they call it at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens.

Biologist Hilton: "You're putting them in an alien environment and they don't know what's going on. So we put them in this tank and try to keep them covered and as dark as possible so they feel like they're safe."

"We're going to give her some treatments not only to help her if she is sick, but also to make sure she doesn't have any parasites or other illnesses that she might give to other fish that are on display."

Yes, we're all going to be able to see her. She'll be on permanent display, just like other big blues that now seem a bit smaller.

Mullennix: "We're all excited. We'll go down there."

As for her age, Genie can just guess.

"We could tell definitely how old she was but to do that we'd have to harm her. So we're going to estimate her age at somewhere over 30 years of age."

Big Blue is going to have a pampered life ahead of her.

"This is like being put in 'fish heaven.'"

And Cody has bragging rights, probably for his life. You'd think there would be some envy, but his friends are happy just for knowing the person who caught the biggest one of all.

"Most of them have been pretty happy. I see no jealousy. They're pretty good guys."

Morgan Palmer, reporting.
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