After just getting over a bout of flu, Tennessee fisherwoman Paula Cathey Smith, who works three days a week nursing, was itching to go fishing. Paula and her husband, Ken, set off at Mason’s Boat Dock to pick a fishing spot on Kentucky Lake, which borders Kentucky and Tennessee.
My new personal best caught on the Tennessee river,Ky lake! Yessss!!! Say hello to my PB 88 lbs
Among the rods set up hanging off the back of their boat was Paula’s new rod and reel. The couple that day decided to try a different bait—gizzard shad. Little did Paula know that a huge catfish was about to eat the bait on her fishing gear. “We were probably sitting there 30 minutes, and bam! He hit,” she told ABC News.
“The thrill of seeing your pole go down, and then trying to get it in the boat without breaking or snapping the line—it’s unbelievable,” Paula explained. “It’s the most awesome feeling in the world.”
After Paula Cathey Smith reeled in the gargantuan catfish, she pulled it in the boat, weighed it, snapped a few photos and released it back into the water.
Paula Reeling In a Big Fish
Paula battled hard to reel in the mammoth fish; her husband, Ken, hovered with the net to pull it aboard, then the huge catfish broke Ken’s net as they hauled it on board.
“It put up a heck of a fight,” she said. “And when I got it in the boat, it was just the most amazing feeling in the world.”
In the video captured, both are seen having guesses as to the blue catfish’s weight, Paula knowing it was going to be her personal best. As they lift the fish’s bulging belly off the deck and weigh it, Ken calls out 88 pounds (approx. 40 kg).
Paula exclaims in the video, “I’ve never in my life seen a fish as big as this!” However, after snapping a few photos with the fish, the couple released the catfish back into the water. You can hear Paula say on their video she wants the catfish to grow even bigger so her grandson can catch it one day.
“I’m a firm believer in catch and release,” she said, adding that catfish are “more able to take that stress than other fish.” With this historic catch, Paula of Waverly has become a sensation among the regional fishing community after she snagged that gigantic 88 pounder in December 2018.
The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency shared the impressive image showing Paula with her “personal best” catch on Facebook. They wrote, “River Monster! Paula Cathey Smith shows us you can catch fish in the winter with this ‘personal best’ 88 pounder caught and released safely back into KY Lake.”
As someone who has been fishing since she was a little girl, she is after an even bigger “personal best.” Her previous record was an 82-pound (approx. 37-kilogram) catfish she caught in the spring of 2018 on Duck River, which feeds into the Tennessee River. Paula and her husband, a game warden for the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency in Humphreys County, fish regularly, and she catches a large catfish every week—on average about 30 pounds (approx. 13 kg).
“My goal is to beat the state record of (112 pounds)(50.8 kilos),” Paula told HuffPost.
Many praised Paula and her husband for releasing the catfish back into the waters. Some locals were surprised to know that catfish were even in the area.
One Facebook user wrote: “I never hear anything about catfish in KY lake and I know there are plenty of big fish there.”
Watch the video:
CATCH OF THE DAY: Video captures the moment Tennessee fisherwoman Paula Smith pulled in an 88-pound catfish, setting a new personal record.Smith said her goal is to catch a 100-pound catfish and that "it's just a matter of time" before she beats the state record of 130 pounds. https://abcn.ws/2Fh6xm7
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