The Etowah Blue Catfish record is finally created

On May 31, I called my fishing buddy and winding instructor Perry Nichols, and we talked about a plan to fish from a bar on the Etowah River (we call it “E”) on Friday, June 3. The boat, which is larger than mine, Perry invited his nephew Alan Moroney to fish with us.

AIIann and his wife are missionaries with YWAM (Youth With A Mission). They are missionaries in Spain. His homeland is Brazil. He, his wife and two children just arrived in Marietta a few days ago. This summer they will be traveling to visit their supporters in the United States, who are traveling from Georgia to California.

The New Etowah River Blue Catfish is certified at 27 pounds, 0.8 ounces. The fish was photographed before it was released alive and well (from left to right) Alan Moroney, Hugh Stevens and Perry Nichols.

Perry, who lives in Marietta, has fished from the Cosa River system since 1996. He was a member of the Roma Stripper Club, and I worked with him at Riverstone Church in leading the small group. In 2004, he purchased his River Pro jet boat and began directing fishing trips on the Coosa River system. My first trip with him was in 2005. Being a native of Louisiana, I’ve been duck hunting and fishing my whole life, when I caught my first zigzag, I was hooked on river fishing. He taught me how to freeline, bottom fish, pull screeds, and fish and fish with live shade. He taught me all about river fishing for the prone. Thank you Berry for the gift of guiding and teaching me the art of river fishing.

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My goal was to get into the “30 Club,” which is when we catch a 30-plus pound racket. Berry in May has landed one of those, and he’s also at 40 pounds. club. I’ve caught a lot of clamps over the years, but only up to 29lbs. Finally, while fishing with Perry in Tennessee last July, I joined the club and got a 36-Ib. fish! to 40 ib. The club!

Now onto our fishing trip last Friday, June 3rd. We stopped at Shad Shack in Acworth and bought string shad for our bait tank, took a break for breakfast, and headed to E. We started fishing upriver in Kingston with clear, rainy water. We caught one stripper and some catfish. Then we headed to downtown Rome. We called Coosa and headed “E.” The water was uncolored and the river was running high with the water falling. We stopped and caught a spot and weren’t so lucky. We decided to go upriver to the same spot where I fished with John Morgado on May 17th when he hit the new record for the flathead Etowah catfish that weighed just over 38 lbs.

We fished that spot for about an hour, no bites, so we made the decision to leave, and then it happened, the rod bent and the rope was ripping off the reel. A stripper for sure. But, during the 10-minute fight, we saw a catfish’s dprsal fin. One thing about blue cats, they fight like zigzags. During the fight, the fish zigzagged the river and was suspended twice. I had to open the reel and let go of the pressure, in both cases I freed the fish from getting stuck in the river. This fish, too — like a 23-Ib. The bue catfish I caught on my trip with John weeks ago, a record fish I didn’t catch – headed upriver behind the boat for now. This is a movement I’ve only seen with blue catfish. Perry grabbed the net and went down 27-Ib. Blue catfish in boat, second river record caught in three weeks. We kept fishing and caught seven strips for the big day.

Hugh Stevens, of Canton, with a blue catfish he recorded in the Etoah River, caught June 3, 2022. The 38-inch-long cat weighed 27 pounds, 0.8 ounces.

We stopped at Georgia DNR in Armuchee on the way home and the fish were weighed and certified. They gave him oxygen, took pictures, and released him into the Ostanola (“O”) River near Calhoun, the same place we released the John fIathead record weeks ago. Hopefully they both go back to “E.”

The point of the fishing was to catch catfish, but that catfish boycott was really a great E experience and lifelong memories with my brothers in Christ: Perry, Ian, and John.

Editor’s note: The GON website is undergoing an upgrade, and Lake & River’s online records will be updated on July 1st once the site’s work is complete.

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