Michael Robinson succumbed to his friend Terry Raymer’s peer pressure to go fishing earlier this week—and ended up landing a huge blue catfish. The duo fished on Tuesday, March 15, on a section of the Ohio River near Louisville. They were using skipjack cut bait. “I didn’t really want to go fishing, but my buddy kind of talked me into going. He was like, ‘Oh, c’mon out here for a little while,’ Robinson tells F&S. “We got out there, and within 20 minutes, the fish hit.”
“When I first hooked into him, I didn’t really think he was as big as what he was. I’ve caught a lot of fish in the 30-, 40-, and 50-pound range, and that’s what I thought he was,” says Robinson. “He came right toward me, and once he got to the side of the boat, he went haywire. He was trying to pull me into the motor. He dove under the boat. He had my rod bent double. I mean, he knew he was hooked and didn’t like it all that much.”
Robinson was fighting the fish with a Catch the Fever 7’ 6” medium-heavy rod paired with an Abu Garcia Ambassador 7000 reel spooled with 100-pound braid attached to an 80-pound mono leader. He says the fight took approximately 15-minutes before he could get the brute to the side of the boat for Raymer to net it.
“We didn’t realize how thick he actually was until actually put him up onto the boat,” says Robinson. “It took both of us to get him up over the side. Neither one of us could do it single-handedly. Once we saw him in the boat, we were both just in shock. I was shaking. My drum was really pumping. The hair was standing up on my arms. I was like, ‘dude, this is the biggest fish I’ve ever seen!’”
As Robinson was getting the monster into the livewell, another rod doubled over. Raymer quickly boated a 30-pounder. Then the duo wanted to weigh Robinson’s big fish, but they’d only brought a small hand scale with them. So, they called one of their buddies, Bryan Clark, who met them at the boat launch with a better scale. The fish weighed in at 97.2 pounds with the net, which equates to 95 pounds without the net. It easily busted Robinson’s previous PR, which was a 60-pounder. After weighing the fish, Robinson released it back into the Ohio River.
Read Next: British Columbia Fishing Guide Catches and Releases Giant 10.6-Foot, 600-Pound White Sturgeon
Robinson is a serious catfish angler—and catching the trophy fish is the result of thousands of hours spent fishing. “I target catfish for the slam of them rods. When one of them rods gets slammed over and you grab it in your hand, it’s a feeling you can’t explain. You know you’ve got a monster on the other end of that line,” he says. “For a bunch of us, this is what we do on the weekends. This is our getaway. We go out and hunt for these trophy cats. I’ve always dreamed of catching one this size.”
Despite landing a fish of a lifetime, Robinson doesn’t plan on stopping anytime soon. He’s intent on catching an even larger specimen, and as of Thursday, when he spoke with Field & Stream for this story, was already out fishing again. “The next goal is to try to hit the triple digits. I know there are a few of them that have been caught in my area. I think 106-pounds is the state record in Kentucky,” he says. “I’m addicted to fishing. I just love it.”