May 22, 2016
At just 13 years young, Charles Patchen of Alabama, caught a 63.8-pound flathead catfish on the Chattahoochee River, in Jackson County on May 15, 2016. The official measurements were 48.03 inches in total length, with a girth of 35.43 inches. Patchen's catch smashed the previous florida flathead state record by more than eight pounds.
Hesitant about going bream fishing with his mother and stepfather, Jeanette and Bryan Atwell, Charles reluctantly tagged along.
When the bream suddenly stopped biting after a successful morning, Patchen's stepfather suggested there might be a larger fish lurking in the water scaring off the bream. So, Charles decided to bait a bluegill up and in hopes for a chance at whatever was scaring off the bream.
After getting his bait struck hard twice, Patchen set the hook into what felt like a massive snag and yelled for his stepfather to take over. "I grabbed the pole from him, gave it a couple tugs and the fish took off," said Atwell. "I handed the pole back to Charles and said, 'GET 'EM!'"
Patchen fought the catfish on a Zebco 33 with 14-pound test line for nearly two hours while his stepfather guided their boat with his trolling motor, following the fish in hopes of tiring it out. The monster flathead catfish eventually gave up the fight and Patchen reeled it in. After the fish flipped over, Atwell had to roll it into their boat because it was too large for their net.
"I was so tired after reeling it in that I fell back into the boat to rest," said Patchen, the newly awarded state-record holder for flathead catfish. "But I'm glad my mom made me go fishing that day because now I am the catfish master!" said Patchen.
FWC Biologist Katie Woodside met with the Charles and his family the following day to get an official certified weight and measurements and to have the application notarized.