An angler in Athens, Texas set a state catch-and-release record this week with this 20.8-pound channel cat that measured nearly three feet long.

Brian Smith caught the catfish on a fly rod with a fly he tied himself–a size 8 gold bead head on a white and purple Wooly Bugger. His rig was an 8-weight G. Loomis Experience rod with an Okuma SLV 7/8 reel spooled with Scientific Angler GPX 8-weight, weight-forward Master Series line and a furled leader with a 10-pound-test tippet.

He fought the fish for about 20 minutes and once he landed it, took a few pictures and released it back into the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center casting pond.

Smith told the TPWD about his method for catfishing on the fly:

“I use a method known to some fly-fishers as a dead drift. It involves a strike indicator or a shorter leader/tippet using the fly line as the indicator, which I was doing the day I caught the record fish. The way I catch my catfish on the fly is, I allow the fly to sink to the strike zone. Catfish feed a lot on falling prey, particularly minnows and shad from schooling fish such as white bass and largemouth bass. Sometimes these schooling fish will eat so much they will begin to regurgitate their prey, and it falls. As it falls catfish and other fish will pick it up, and that is what I re-create.”

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