I know I’m not the first fisherman to get it into his head that he wanted a state record fish. In fact, I’d almost bet that we’ve all thought about it at one time or other. Well, I decided that I was going to take my best shot and go hunting a state record saltwater fish. It all began a few years ago when Texas Parks and Wildlife certified a new record for a previously unlisted species. The record was only a couple of pounds and I knew I had been catching some of these same fish, only mine were certainly bigger than the record. So began my quest to get my name in the record books. On the first attempt, I admit I may have been a little over zealous. Six rods, generator, set of railroad lights, bait, cot, tent, and plenty of other gear was spread out all over my secret spot, but by night fall I was ready. After getting all six lines rigged and into the water I settled back and waited for one of them to double over with the tell tale sign of a fish on. An hour later I was still waiting. As I was three hours more into that first night. Not to be discouraged, I started my second night with the lights going full blast and baited my hooks with some live bait from the nearest bait camp. I cast out my lines and began my second attempt at the record. I knew this was going to be it. And I was right! After only ten minutes the first strike came. The fish hit like a monster and fought hard before coming to the net. But, it was only a 36 inch redfish and not what I was after. Then as I was releasing the red, the second strike came. Again it was a fight, but I was the winner. And once again it was not my prey on the other end of the line. This time I had landed a speckled trout that had to be in the 10 or 11 pound range. Releasing this fish it occurred to me that this was not the trip I was going to find my record. It occurred to me that the record class fish I was after may not be in the area just yet. So, I decided to pack it up, head for home, and make plans for the next attempt. One month later, with the warmer weather of mid-summer bringing more fish into my secret spot, I again packed my gear and headed for the coast. This time I knew there was a better than even chance that the record I sought would be waiting. I decided to increase my chances for success by bringing along eight rods for bait and another to work the area with artificials between strikes. The first fish hit about an hour into the night and was a good one, but not quite good enough. I released him, rebaited the rod, cast it out, and continued working the area with lures. The second fish hit and judging from the fight this had to be my record. After several minutes of carefully fighting him I brought my fish to the net. It had to be the one. This was the biggest hardhead I’d ever seen and I knew I had to get it to certified scales quick, before it last any weight through dehydration. I asked one of the fellows fishing next to me if his partner would watch my gear while he came with me to witness the catch. He agreed and we headed for the scales, all the while with visions of a Texas State Record running through my head. As we pulled up to the marina my witness ran inside to let them know that a possible state record fish needed to be weighed in on their scales. As I walked proudly into the building I could feel everyone’s eyes on me waiting with anticipation for the unveiling of my catch. I set the cooler down next to the scales and announced that I thought we should go ahead and get started on the TPWD paper work first. Since very few of these fellow anglers had ever actually seen a state record, quite moans were heard around the room at this statement. Finally, I turned to the cooler and brought out my prize. Turns out most fishermen over estimate their catches and my fish was a little more than slightly off the record. But, as I remember that day, I still can’t understand what all the laughter was about. I remain determined to break the Texas record for hardhead catfish and as I said in the beginning, every fisherman dreams of catching a record breaking fish, but for most it remains only a dream. As for me, I still say I can catch more and bigger hardheads than anyone else I know. And that record is going to have my name next to it one of these days.
– Texas Saltwater Fishing Guide