Wister Lake apparently is home to the state’s biggest flatheads.
A Howe man has landed a new state record flathead catfish on a rod and reel.
Tommy Couch’s 76-pound flathead was caught on a red worm from the Poteau River below Wister Dam on June 13.
It beats the old record of 72-pounds, 8 ounces by Ron Cantrell in 2004 from El Reno lake.
Ironically, while Couch’s beast is a new state record, it won’t be the lake record.
The biggest flathead ever on record in Oklahoma also was pulled from Wister Lake. That was a 106-pound giant that was taken in 1977 on a trotline.
Oklahoma keeps state records in two divisions: catches on a rod and reel and in an unrestricted division, which is every other kind of catching that is legal.
But for lake records, there is no distinction.
According to a news release from the state Wildlife Department, Couch thought he had caught a carp when he was reeling in the huge flathead.
“He stayed right along the bank and right along the bottom,” Couch said, similar to carp he has landed in the past. “When his tail finally came up — that’s when I realized what he was.”
Couch was fishing the old Poteau River channel below the Wister Dam when he landed his state record.
He was not having much luck using night crawlers, so he switched to red worms and caught the fish just after 1 p.m. The catfish measured 51 1/2” in length and had a girth of 58 1/4.”
Couch was using a Ambassadeur 5000 reel on a Master Spector 10′ graphite rod. His 20 lb. test line was rigged with a 2-0 Eagle Claw hook.
Couch said he has never had a fish fight on the line quite like his record fish — or like a catfish in general, which is one reason he recommends catfish angling to other sportsmen.
Couch is an avid catfish angler, and he said “anytime the barometer is rising” is a good time to be casting for catfish.
Flathead catfish are popular among Oklahoma anglers, as are channel catfish and blue catfish. All three catfish are readily available in the state’s lakes, ponds and rivers, and they can be caught using a variety of methods, including rod and reel, trotlining, juglining, limblining and noodling.
Couch had initially considered donating the fish to an aquarium facility, but it died before he found a location that would accept it.
He and friends decided to eat the fish and have already sampled the meat.