300-pound catfish wins Kansas men’s championship

angler fishing for catfish
Craig Norris (right) and Tyson Burnett with their champion cat.
Courtesy PBSS Flathead Club

Within 10 minutes of starting a two-day catfish competition in the Missouri River near Atchison, Kansas, a pair of anglers hooked a cat monster that pulled resistance and bent a heavy pole nearly two times.

Meriden’s Craig Norris took the bait, and after an exhausting fight, he caught an 87.3-pound oversized, pot-bellied blue catfish – the largest he’s ever caught.

But according to Norris and fishing partner Tyson Burnett from the Kansas State Assembly, it’s far from done. KSNW-TVan affiliate of NBC Wichita.

The pair drove the boat a few miles down Missouri to another favorite, and 10 minutes later, just before 7 p.m., Norris caught a second giant catfish. After another epic fight, the fish got tired and they brought it to their boat with a 70 pound blue catfish.

They talked about getting the 90-minute boat back to the weighing station, but as they were getting ready to go, another bait rod was shaken by a third big cat, and soon a 27-pound fish was towed on the boat.

They returned to Atcheson to report their catch, which was officially 184.3 pounds. Then they went back to their boat, ran to a proven Missouri River catfish hole, set up bait sticks, and decided to take a nap when day turned to night.

At 2am, they were awakened by the sound and thump of a stationary fishing rod as the rod was doubled and a large fish lined up. After an uphill battle, they paddled another 63-pound heavy catfish.

They now have 247.3 pounds of catfish for the local PBSS Flathead Club Championship, a local group that has hosted catfish events on the Missouri River in northeastern Kansas for 20 years. But they want to weigh 300+ pounds for this event. This happened at 7 a.m. when they caught a 54-pound blue catfish, bringing their total weight to 301.3 pounds.

“It just got to the point where I said ‘I can’t believe this is happening,'” Norris told KSNW-TV. “We took five bites and caught five fish.”

The fishing team won the game, earning $3,054.50 for their efforts. They caught 121 pounds more than the second-placed fishing team, which came as a bit of a shock to the winning angler.

“It feels good,” Norris said. “Really, I don’t think we got over 300. But when we did, we were excited about it. It was pretty big. I don’t know how to explain it, but I don’t think it’s going to be beaten again.

“Just spending time on the water helps,” Norris said. “You might not catch anything, but you’re still learning. I’m out a few days and I might not get a bite, but I’ll still learn something from it.”

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