Conserve & Protect
The Blog of N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission

Comments to Conserve & Protect blog site are encouraged.
The site is monitored and we ask that all comments:

  • Be respectful and relevant.
  • Do not defame, threaten or otherwise violate the rights, such as privacy, of others.
  • Do not advertise or promote a product or service.
  • Do not violate any applicable laws or regulations, or promote unsafe or illegal actions.

**This is a monitored site and all comments are subject to public records law. Comments made after the close of business, on weekends and holidays will be posted the following work day.

View Blog

The Monster Blue Cats of Lake Gaston

Jul 25

Written by:
7/25/2014 9:11 AM  RssIcon

(Editor’s Note: Zakk Royce caught and released this 70+ pound blue catfish earlier this week from Lake Gaston in Northampton County. Zakk did not get the actual weight of the brute before he released it back into Gaston because the blue cat pegged his hand-held scale that maxed out at 70 pounds. Zakk does most of his fishing in Gaston, where he hopes to start a guide service after getting his captain’s license. Keep reading to see Zakk describe in his words how he managed to hook and land this giant blue cat — one of many that the Murfreesboro [Hertford Co.] resident has reeled in from Gaston.)


I was using whole gizzard shad around 8- to 12-inches long that I had caught earlier that morning on the lake using my cast net. I had been fishing since about 5 a.m., but I actually caught the big blue catfish at two in the afternoon. We also caught plenty of other blue catfish but none close to that big that day.


We were actually about to head back in to the boat ramp due to bad thunderstorms on the lake when this fish bit.


I was fishing at one of my favorite fishing spots on Gaston, but I cannot give away the exact location. I will say I was fishing in a creek on the lower end of the lake on the Northampton County side of Gaston. It took me about 20 minutes to actually get this fish in the boat. Every time I got the fish close to the boat, it would pull a lot of drag on my reel and run back out away from the boat. But once I finally got it to the top, my father used a landing net, which took both of us to pull up into the boat!


This is my biggest blue catfish so far. I have caught many from 30 to 60 pounds on Lake Gaston in the past. I also had an even bigger one hooked back in October. I reeled it up beside my boat, but did not land it, unfortunately.


I eat catfish. They are very tasty fish to eat, but I only keep blue catfish under 10 pounds to eat. I practice catch-and-release on all of the big ones. I usually fry them, or just grill them. Either way, blue cats are very tasty!


I released this big fish because I believe that we all need to play our part in conserving these fish, so that one day our future generations can get the same enjoyment out of them.


My father started taking me fishing at a very young age and it is something that I grew to love. Fishing has always been a very positive hobby for me when I was growing up. It’s a great tradition, and I hope we can all work together to conserve what we have, not just blue catfish, but all species.


Zakk’s Fishing Advice

Anyone who wants to give catfishing for big blues a try on Lake Gaston should start by stop thinking that catfish are simply bottom dwellers. From my experience, I have actually noticed that blue catfish are often suspended off of the bottom and will feed near the surface, particularly in the summer.


For example, this 70-pounder was caught in 30 feet of water, but I was only fishing 10 feet under the surface of the water. Often, I catch big blue catfish during the summer only five feet under the surface — even in water as deep as 50 feet or more. Also, for blue catfish I find that covering a lot of water is the best approach for catching them. I don’t stay in one spot long, unless I have found a spot where there is a good steady bite.


The last thing I would like to add is if you’re after a trophy-sized blue catfish, do not be afraid to use a very big bait, and of course, a large hook as well! My personal preference is 10/0 Khale hooks, fished on the end of medium-heavy fishing rods, and baitcaster reels spooled with 30-pound monofilament fishing line.

2 comment(s) so far...

Re: The Monster Blue Cats of Lake Gaston

i grew up on lake gaston and like oyu my dad started me out fishing @ a young age through those younger years it didn't set in but no that i'm almost 50 i've dug a pond in my front yard and everytime i sit down on my dock and fish i remember something that happened when me and my dad were fishing and i'll get a big smile and chuckle and my wife will ask me whats so funny and i'll tell her you had to be there my dear you had ot be there.. i wish i would have realize how valuable thos yimes where back then not that i would have done anything different i would have liked to be able to reflect back on those days i spent with my dad just me & him sitting on the water fish or no fish i wouldn't give those days back for mnothing i nthe world.. I LOVE YOU DAD & THANKS FROM YOUR SON....

By Mark Laughrey on   7/25/2014 10:55 PM

Re: The Monster Blue Cats of Lake Gaston

Awesome catfish. Thanks for releasing a trophy. That provides good genetics for future generations. People should follow your example.

By Philip Price on   7/27/2014 2:32 PM

Your name:
Add Comment   Cancel 

Search Blog

You must be logged in and have permission to create or edit a blog.