Flathead Ed's Flathead

Guides wakes to line dragging, reels in Arizona's heaviest fish

Flathead Ed's Flathead
Flathead Ed's Flathead

PHOENIX – Eddie “Flathead Ed” Wilcoxson was asleep on the fold-out cot of his 24-foot pontoon boat on Friday, April 12, when what would become a state record flathead catfish began taking drag at Bartlett Lake.

About 35 minutes later, at 2:37 a.m., Wilcoxson, 56, boated what Arizona Game and Fish Department officials verified is a 76.52-pound flathead catfish. It measured 53.5 inches in total length with a 34.75-inch girth.

It also became the heaviest recorded fish of any species in state history, topping the 74-pound flathead catfish caught in 1988 out of the Colorado River by Walter Wilson of Bard, Calif.

In addition, Wilcoxson’s flathead beat the previous inland waters state record held by Adrian Manzanedo of Florence, who in 2003 caught a 71-pound, 10.24-ounce flathead at San Carlos Lake.


“Everybody’s got the same chance I do,” Wilcoxson said. “You just have to get out and do it.”


Wilcoxson, of Surprise, was in the yellow cliffs area of Bartlett fishing in 35-38 feet of water over a rock pile. He caught the flathead using an Ugly Stik fishing rod, Okuma 45D reel, 60-pound braided line, an 18-inch steel leader with a SPRO Power Swivel and, as bait, a live 2-pound carp.

“I sleep out on the water 3-4 days sometimes,” Wilcoxson said. “Sometimes during Thanksgiving I’ll spend three weeks straight out there. Also, I fished 39 weekends last year.”Bill Stewart, also of Surprise, was on the boat as well.

Wilcoxson owns the “AZ Fishing 4 Flathead Cat” fishing guide service. He said he received his new guide license April 1. “But I’ve been fishing Arizona my whole life,” he said.

He said he’d never caught one this big, although he did land one that weighed about 65 pounds.“When it came close to the boat, I saw there was only one treble hook in the corner of his mouth,” Wilcoxson said, “so I backed off on the drag. If not, it would have ripped right out of his mouth.”


Wilcoxson said he and Stewart brought the behemoth in the boat with the help of a heavy-duty lip grabber.

In addition to flathead catfish, the 2,015-acre Bartlett Lake, located in the Tonto National Forest northeast of Phoenix, holds largemouth bass, sunfish, crappie, channel catfish, carp and crayfish.

Bartlett Lake also produced the state record carp that weighed 37 pounds, measured 40 inches, and was caught in 1987 by Jonathan Gardner of Phoenix.


A USFS Tonto Pass is required to access Bartlett Lake.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Berkley

Berkley's Surge Shad

Major League Fishing pro Scott Suggs has relied on the Berkley Surge Shad lure concept for years, using similar designs to capture MLF titles and a $1 million dollar FLW Forrest Cup win. With new features in the Surge Shad, Suggs tells OSG's Lynn Burkhead that even he can find success out on the water!

MLF BPT angler and former Classic champ Casey Ashley has been with Costa del Mar sunglasses his whole career. At ICAST 2019, he shows OSG writer Lynn Burkhead some new products and talks how to pick the right lens color for the water.

Electric Filet Knife from Bubba Blades

Electric Filet Knife from Bubba Blades

As OSG's Lynn Burkhead looks on, Josh Neville shows off the cordless and corded versions of a new electric filet knife from Bubba Blades.

Costa

Costa's Award Winning Waterwoman Sunglasses

Costa's Amanda Sabin tells OSG's Lynn Burkhead about all of the great features that made the new Waterwoman frame a big winner at the 2019 ICAST show as well as out on the water.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

You can catch bluegill faster with these strategies. Panfish

Find and Fish Bluegill Beds Efficiently

Terry Madewell - May 22, 2019

You can catch bluegill faster with these strategies.

When it comes to fishing baits, you won't find a more unusual variety than the strange brews of smelly ingredients often used to catch catfish. Catfish

How To Make Your Own Catfish Dough Bait

Keith Sutton - August 04, 2015

When it comes to fishing baits, you won't find a more unusual variety than the strange brews...

Unless you live in Antarctica, the only continent they aren't known to inhabit, there is a species Catfish

10 Biggest Catfish World Records of All Time

Jack Vitek - December 08, 2014

Unless you live in Antarctica, the only continent they aren't known to inhabit, there is a...

Want to test the outer limits of your shooting skill? There's more to successful long-range Ammo

10 Best Long-Range Cartridges Ever Made

David Hart - January 14, 2015

Want to test the outer limits of your shooting skill? There's more to successful long-range

See More Trending Articles

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.