The beast weighed 93.25 pounds a day-and-a-half after the five anglers landed the fish. Kept on ice in a cooler, it was weighed on certified scales at Matkins Meat Company north of Burlington. The fish measured 54 inches in length with a girth of 40 inches.The head's circumference totaled 30 inches.
"It was 1:55 a.m. on July 4 when we dropped it on the deck of the pontoon boat, and I took the first picture," said James Crumpton, owner of Burlington's A+ Heating and Air Conditioning.
The trophy was a culmination of years of catfishing the 49,500-acre lake that spans the North Carolina-Virginia border.
"We've been fishing for catfish up there for seven years," Crumpton said. "Our biggest one before this one weighed 40 pounds, but we kept going back, trying for a big one."
Crumpton, brothers Bruce and Dale Glode, Terry Apple of Snow Camp and his teen-age son Bailey Apple began fishing about 9 p.m. the night of July 3.They caught some bream earlier to use as cut bait before they began to put out 23 floating jugs with 20 feet of 100-pound catfish line attached to 7/0 circle hooks near the Ivy Hill ramp.
"I learned we got to use bigger circle hooks next time," James Crumpton said.
They drove to the Ivy Hill Recreation Area on the western arm of the lake in Virginia and launched the pontoon boat. Then they watched the 1-gallon jugs float around the lake.
"We caught only two catfish that night," Crumpton said, "a small one and this one."
After retrieving all their jugs - which had green lights inside and orange reflective tape on the outside - except one, they began to ride and use flashlights to spot the final jug.
"We spotted the tape on the jug's side about a mile from where we'd put it in the water," Bruce Glode said. "The inside light had gone out, but when we got close, the catfish dived. The green light came back on; we could see it 12 feet under the water."
The catfish stayed down for a couple of minutes before the jug floated to the top and Crumpton grabbed it.
"The fish swirled twice and broke off part of the circle hook but enough was left to keep the hook in the fish's mouth," he said.
Dale Glode and Terry Apple leaned over the side of the boat with the other anglers holding their belts. They held a big landing net, while Crumpton guided the fish's head into the net, then they hauled Glode and Apple back into the boat with the catfish in tow.
"It was a group effort, so we're gonna have a full body mount done by (Burlington taxidermist) Bill Gammon and share keeping it in our houses," Crumpton said.
Nick Anderson, a high school football coach from Greenville, caught the world-record 143-pound blue catfish June 18, 2011, at Kerr Lake. Willie Zost of Roxboro held the Virginia blue cat record with a 2004 fish that weighed 92.278 pounds before Anderson's fish. Zost caught his fish near Clarksville, Va.
The N.C. record blue catfish still belongs to Joel Linberger, who landed an 85-pound fish at Lake Norman, June 19, 2004.
To qualify as a state record, a fish must be caught on hook and line; jug-caught catfish are ineligible.