Fresh from a fine Lake Norman fishing trip several days ago during which he caught a mix of 21 stripers and hybrids, Dieter Melhorn of Cramerton decided to go seeking blue catfish, a pastime at which he is expert.
His son, Gracen, 8, asked to go along over the New Year’s Day period in the family camper to Lake Wateree, near Great Falls, S.C.
“It was rainy and cold and fishing was miserable,” the elder Melhorn, a videographer with strong ties to NASCAR, related this week. “So Gracen didn’t go out one day.
“But the next day, Jan. 1, despite a 32-degree morning temperature and ice on the boat, he decided to join me on the lake.”
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Action was slow, but the weather moderated a bit, making conditions tolerable.
Only three catfish had been caught when Melhorn cast a piece of gizzard shad into about 5 feet of water near the shoreline at Lake Wateree State Park. Shortly, there was a good hit.
Gracen took the rod and experienced the fight of his young life.
The Melhorns had hooked a monster blue catfish. Luckily, they were using relatively heavy tackle.
“It took Gracen only about four minutes to work the fish alongside the boat,” continued Melhorn. “It took another two minutes for me to net it. Muddy conditions made it hard to see the fish and its 45-inch length made getting it in the net difficult.”
Once the huge blue catfish was boated, Melhorn placed it on certified scales. The weight: a whopping 60 pounds, 9 ounces.
Gracen, a home-schooled second-who weighs only 78 pounds, was delighted. “Daddy, I’m so glad I got out of that warm bed this morning and came fishing with you!” the boy exclaimed.
A proud father was rather tickled as well. Tom Higgins
Catches of the week
• Approximately 100 reds, or spottails, in North Inlet near Georgetown, S.C., by local guide Fred Roark and a friend. The fish, generally in the 25-inch range, were released.
• Approximately 50 large reds in North Inlet by the party Brandon Sauls, Clay Morphis, Mark Stacy and Mark Rickman, all of the Ocean Isle area. The fish were released.
• Four wahoo in the 40-pound range offshore of Ocean Isle by the party of Scott Hamilton, Brent and Matt Elliott.
• Approximately 100 pounds of snowy grouper while bottom fishing off Little River by a party led by Jeff Martini of North Myrtle Beach.