May 27, 2024

One July afternoon my fiance and I,( soon to be wife) decided to go catfishing down by the kankakee river in Wilmington IL.

 The only problem was is that we had just gotten about 6 inches of rain a couple days prior to this and the river was flooded and I mean flooded. My usual spot where I stand was about 7 to 8 feet underwater and the river was flowing fast and it was real murky making matters even worse. Well I was still wanting to waste a few hours and get out to do some fishing as I was home from work with a injury to my leg and I had a cast on because I had broken my ankle about a week ago. Well I wasn’t about to waste a nice July day home from work and getting paid to basically go fishing, well kind of anyway thats how I seen it. Well on our way to the river we stopped at the local bait shop got some chicken livers, bought some golden roaches and off we went, before leaving the bait shop I asked the woman behind the counter”Fish Been Biting”? She replied, not to many reports with the water level where it’s at, I said oh well I’m off from work for a couple weeks so I’m out to waste a few hours and enjoy myself anyway with my Fiance so thanks and hopefully I will catch the big one today and see you after i’m done for pictures, well I’m sure she was thinking yea right wish I had a quarter for as many times as I heard that and when I seen how high the river was I mite have just agreed with that.
Well my fiance and I drove to my “hot spot” parked, grabbed the poles and walked down to the spot commenting we don’t have far to walk with the river being up so hi, when I was getting the poles set up for bait I realized we were only going to be able to run one pole because even with the  heavy weight on there I had no control of the bait set up, I would cast the pole up river and it would drift down river real fast to where it was almost back up on shore so it was quite frustrating.
Well after doing that for about 30 minutes and not getting any bites I was starting to wonder if I had made a right decision by even trying in this high of water maybe I would just fish for another 30 minutes and we would call it a day, if we didn’t catch any fish yet with the bait not cooperating an no bites it was looking like a wash more and more now, as it was almost a hour now, when all of a sudden my pole bends in half in a fraction of a second I went from getting frustrated to realizing I had a fish so big it felt like I had a small truck on my line and it felt like it was moving right down the river with nothing stopping it. My bass rod with 10 lb Trilene wasn’t going to stop it, but with the right maneuvering and playing the drag just right I could slow it down some and thats just what I did.
I would reel almost all my line in all but 50 to 60 feet and it would take out about 90 yards of line when it would see the shoreline, I literally was saying prayers as I was fighting this fish for all of 45 minutes, and now the moment of truth was coming I was finally going to see what I had because up to this point I had no idea what I had for sure I just knew it was a hog!
I finally got this fish within 10 feet when I finally got to see it, it was this huge catfish the biggest I had ever caught I than realized my net was going to be to small I start yelling frantically to my fiance, Babe, Babe do something my nets to small and I have nowhere to stand with the water being so high my cast is going to get wet, and then in a split second I realized I was going to have to jump on it, so with one swing of the rod and a lot of adrenaline I swung the rod to the left and beached the fish somewhat and jumped right on it and grabbed tight this fish is a monster I yelled for joy I was so happy my almost hour long fight and I was victorious.
We were so happy my fiance and I, we celebrated hooting and hollering for at least 20 minutes I found myself repeating and reliving the fight and it was great I tell you GREAT! I now picked up my fish and put a huge smile on my face and off we went to the bait shop that I was at a couple hours prior knowing that they were going to be surprised. I put our truck in park, leave the fish in the bed and we go walking into the bait shop i’m trying to contain my enthusiasm I say to the woman do you have a big scale and a camera here, I think you might want to take a picture of me with my fish for your wall of fame, she says well how big is it? I say I’m not sure I don’t have a scale, she says where is the fish at? I say you better follow me out to the truck he is in there, she replies well why didn’t you bring him in, I quickly say follow me, and she does.I then go to my bed let the gate down and she says oh my whats that” a baby walrus” I laugh and say I think I caught the big one today she says you caught that over here in the dam area of the river? I said yup! It turns out that my fish was a flathead catfish weighed in at 46 3/4 pounds and was 43 inches long and was the biggest catfish caught in that area of the river in over 16 years maybe longer. The woman at the bait shop was fascinated, we took pictures,she called the papers, she called all the outdoor papers, I was now instantly like a star of fishing and it was a very proud moment and a great accomplishment in my fishing career. The day that they actually thought I caught a baby walrus my catfish was so big.I received numerous calls from papers so i could tell my story to the outdoor community, I even got a endorsement from trilene because at the time it was a line record and I always swear by Trilene XT line.There was only one downfall to this whole story my boss was a avid outdoorsmen and he ended reading a paper that had me on the front page with my cast and the big catfish and there for awhile was going to not pay me for my time off from work because I was supposed to be at home resting my leg not out fishing jumping on 4 foot catfish on the river bank.
One delighted fisherman.
Chris Cochrane