Belton Lake Angler Landings Awaiting Canal Catfish Record | Outdoor sports


On April 30, I got a call from local fisherman Corey Welch. A number of other catfish anglers were participating in a catfish tournament on Lake Belton to which Welch was a spectator. One of these fishermen landed an oversized catfish and Welch contacted me on his behalf to see if, indeed, this fish could be a record, and if so, what needed to be done to submit an application.

Welch is the current record holder for the catch and release of yellow catfish on Stillhouse Hollow Lake after landing a 41 inch specimen in September 2020, so he was familiar with the record request process.

With Welch still on the phone, I did a quick search for catfish records on Lake Belton. I informed him that, based on preliminary measurements, it appeared that the catfish Welch was inquiring about would be considered the “all material” category record for this species.

The fisherman who made the catch, Cody Smith of Gatesville, was the next to contact me. He and I agreed to meet on Sunday afternoon to get an official measurement of the length and weight of the fish. For a few years now, I have been operating as the official Texas Parks and Wildlife Department weigh station, open to anglers who catch potential fish in the record books.

As we chatted while visiting Smith, I learned a bit more about him and the tournament he was in when he achieved his capture record.

Smith, now 34, has been fishing for 28 years and was first introduced to the sport by his grandfather, whom he calls “Grampy.”

Asked about the appeal of fishing in a tournament-type setting, Smith said he really enjoys the challenge of fishing with and against other competitive anglers.

Smith’s tournament teammates were Stormy Lee and Killeen’s Mark Miller. The three men were fishing from a Gator Trax duck powered by a Black Death engine designed for shallow water.

The tournament, hosted by the Temple-based Craig Marshall Agency of Farmers Insurance, was orchestrated by Christine Culver. Culver said, “I wanted to do something that would promote the Craig Marshall agency and also entertain the community.”

A number of local sponsors have come together to make the tournament and the prizes possible.

Part of the money received from the event is donated to charity. Culver said that in previous years, donations had gone to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

During the tournament, Smith and his teammates traveled by boat to install 70 custom bank poles. These strong fiberglass spikes which are about 3 feet long and about a half inch in diameter are designed to have one end sunk into the shore or lake bottom or some form of wooden blanket. A length of shock absorbing rubber is attached to the opposite end of the tip. A large length of cord is tied to the opposite end of this rubber bumper, and at the terminal end of the cord is a large circular hook.

Smith prefers to bait his bank stakes with live sunfish. He said: “We grab our baits and put them in clean, filtered water, rinse them, then put them in a clean holding tank and take them over and feed them like pet fish to make them grow bigger. . ”

After setting up his poles, Smith returned to check them out about five hours later. As he approached a particular bank post, a quick fish struggled at the end of the line. Smith used a net to catch the hooked fish and realized at this point that he now had an unusually large catfish in his possession.

According to Culver, the prizes for which the 18 teams competed included $ 2,700 for first place, $ 1,350 for second place, $ 450 for third place and $ 175 for fourth place. In addition, $ 450 was to be paid for the largest blue catfish, the largest yellow catfish and the largest channel catfish.

The prices for first to fourth place are based on the total weight of the weighed fish.

Each of the teams, which could have up to three members, paid $ 175 to participate and had the option of paying an additional $ 90 to be entered into the three “big fish” pots.

As Smith and I took the required measurements on Sunday, the fish was 26 inches long with the mouth closed and the tail lobes pinched together.

I maintain three sets of certified scales, one that weighs up to 15 pounds in quarter pound increments, one that weighs up to 30 pounds in half pound increments, and one that weighs up to 60 pounds in one pound increments.

Using the smallest of the three scales, we weighed the fish and found it to be 10.25 pounds, breaking the current record of 8.01 pounds set in 2018.

As Smith watched, we attached his application and the required photos to an email to the TPWD Angler Recognition Program and submitted it.

Smith said: “I want to thank my family for their help, and my dearest wife (Jessika Smith) in handling everything while fishing and making sure we are fed, while working the tournament.”

Smith took home the $ 450 prize for landing the tournament’s biggest catfish. He and his teammates took third place with the 480 pounds of catfish they weighed.

Culver said next year’s tournament is slated for the first weekend in May and will kick off from Cedar Ridge Park in Belton Lake. She can be reached at 254-778-3786 for more details.

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