Colossal catch

The 68-pound catfish took 20 minutes to land
Friday, June 1, 2007 | 12:34 a.m. CDT; updated 8:58 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Fishing on Monday at Mark Twain Lake, Michael and Melissa Barnhart, of Harrisburg, hooked this flathead catfish. On Thursday, they cleaned the 4-foot-3 long fish and froze its meat for fish fries.

“A lot of people don’t get to see a fish that big,” said Adam Wolf, owner of Tombstone Tackle.

Crowds streamed into the store from Monday to Wednesday to gawk at Michael and Melissa Barnhart’s enormous catch: a 68-pound flathead catfish.

The couple, who lives outside of Harrisburg, wrestled the prize on Monday out of Mark Twain Lake. They set out trot lines early in the morning, and at around 8:30, the battle began. The fish ripped the line out of Michael Barnhart’s hands, but he recovered. Twenty minutes later, it capitulated.

Wolf said he was not surprised at Michael Barnhart’s catch.

“He’s a fishing fool,” he said.

The key was his equipment, Wolf said. Although gigantic catfish could bite on any fisherman’s line, only high-quality equipment can handle a monstrous fish. Michael Barnhart used Gamakatsu tackle, Everson fishing line, a Rosco swivel and the biggest goldfish he could find.

It’s too late for those hoping to see the giant. The Barnharts transported the fish to a tank in their garage on Wednesday night.

It had a new home after Thursday night. The couple skinned it, stored it in one of their five freezers and will savor it at fish fries they host this summer.

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