Jordan Rethmeier: That's One Helluva Big Catfish, Dude

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Catfish for dinner!! For the next month and a half.

That's what would have been on the menu at the Jordan Rethmeier home after he reeled in a massive ol' blue catfish at Lake Zebco this weekend, except he released the fish back to the (relative) deep.

Lake Zebco, in Athens, is the Texas Parks & Wildlife's stocked 1.5 acre pond, and it's produced some big fish in its day.

Rethmeier's catch, pictured after the jump, set a record for the lake, though.

His tale is as taut and engrossing as Hemingway's Old Man and the Sea, to be sure.

This fish was big and fighting like it; you could feel the power in every tail stroke! When he would start to get close to shore he would peel off line and head back for the middle of the pond. The difference with this fish was the endurance he had. He just would not tire out and kept peeling line whenever he would get close to the bank. There was one point when he went into a roll, and I thought I was going to lose him. When they do that it sometimes dislodges the hook. We didn't get a look at him for quite a few minutes, but after each run, my dad kept raising his guess as to his weight, 20 to 25, another run, 30 pounds?

Then we caught a glimpse of him and my dad just said, "OH MY! We may need a golf cart to haul him to the scales!"

(Did Hemingway even consider a golf-cart angle? We think not.)

"The fight must have lasted eight minutes or more -- just a tug of war with him taking line whenever he came in close and me pulling him back in afterwards," Rethmeier said. "Thankfully he got tired out just before I did!"

They golf-carted the fish to the scales and discovered they'd landed a 54.3-pound monster that was 47 inches long and 31 inches around. "All I could do was smile," Rethmeier said. "We took him back to the pond and made sure he was doing okay and let him go. Truly a magnificent fish!"

The bait -- a nugget of info we're sure you're dying to learn -- was....some Wonder Bread. Kidding! If your office-pool pick was "a whole four-inch gizzard shad set two to three feet below the bobber and left to drift as the wind blew it across the pond," you can collect your winnings.

Blue catfish (Ictalurus furcatus, y'all) can grow to massive sizes in the Mississippi River drainage system: The record is 150 pounds.

Texas has had troubles with record-setting catfish; e-mail boxes were filled a couple of years ago with a supposed massive catch at Lake Texoma. Snopes and others did the debunking.

There'll be no debunking of Rethmeier''s fish, which once again is living below the surface, waiting to be hooked, possibly smarter for the experience. If he puts on some weight and gets caught again, it'll be a new Lake Zebco record.

The picture:

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