PARKER, AZ — Fishermen always talk about the one that got away but two anglers casting their lines in the Parker area over the weekend didn’t let a potentially record-breaking catch out of their grasp.
“It’s turning out to be the biggest catch of my life bro,” said Steve Cooper with a bellowing chuckle.
Cooper and his nephew Mark Henry living out every fisherman's dream. Reeling in one monster Flathead Catfish in the waterways of Parker.
“I fought him for a good half an hour, ya I fought for a good half an hour and he got my blood racing several times,” said Cooper.
The trip had been planned for months. The location was passed down through three generations by Cooper’s father who discovered the special fishing hole as a trucker more than three decades ago.
“He was driving tractor-trailers through there and he saw all the water, so one trip he took a rod with him, he caught fish. I’ve been going down there since I was knee-high to a duck,” said Cooper.
“We’ve been going ever since to carry his legacy out,” said Henry.
Henry says by any measure, it was already a successful trip, between him and his uncle, where they snagged a number of bass, bluegill, and channel catfish.
“We’ve been catching big fish for a long time but I think this one set the family record,” said Henry with a smile.
“We know we’re gonna catch something but I didn’t know Moby Dick was coming up bro,” said Cooper.
Using live bluegill for bait, Steve battled the mighty flathead cat to exhaustion. The sight of the beast was almost hard to fathom.
“Right before you land him, a lot of things could go wrong, right, and I didn’t want [to] be that guy telling the story, he broke the line right there," said Cooper.
It didn’t happen. They immediately wondered, just how big it was. The Arizona record for flathead catfish, according to game and fish, sits at 76 pounds.
This fish appeared to be more than three feet in length nearly eclipsing Cooper as he held it up with pride with all his might.
“We weighed it about three times, fresh out the water, and we weighed it again on a different buddy's scale,” said Henry.
“Put it on the scale and it said seventy-nine, eighty, seventy-nine, eighty,” said Cooper.
They’re now in the process of getting the big cat certified but even if it doesn’t come in at the whopping weight they hope, it’ll continue to be a tale they tell for years to come.
“It’s touching when you can experience this with your family members like that,” said Cooper.
“If we don’t get it certified it’s fine with us, we just want to have a good time and eat some good catfish that’s all,” said Henry.