‘Flathead Luke’ catches giant blue catfish from Virginia’s James River

Luke Langley and a Blue Catfish
Flathead Luke and his giant blue cat.
Courtesy Luke Langley

Luke Langley is a third grader with only two years of hardcore fishing experience. But the 8-year-old is a seasoned angler, and he joins his dad, Timothy, in Lancaster South Carolina catfish tournaments, usually at Wylie Lake.

He was so fond of targeting whiskered fish, especially flathead catfish, that he was nicknamed “Flathead Luke.” He even has his own Facebook page of the same name detailing his remarkable catfish adventures.

Over Thanksgiving weekend, the father-and-son team towed their Tracker Targa V19 fully rigged catfish boat to Virginia’s James River, where Timothy says he found some of the best catfish he’s ever known.

“I’ve fished there a few times and it’s really good for big bluefish, especially in winter and spring,” says Operations Manager Timothy. “A few of us decided to tow our boats out to the James River for Thanksgiving and go fishing, man, is that good?”

The Langleys set out Thursday morning and immediately caught a large blue catfish using shredded shad bait. They paddled several 10- to 30-pound catfish, and Luke caught a 55-pound blue monster. It was the biggest catfish he had ever had until the pair set off on Friday, November 25.

“When we boarded James, it was drizzling and it was about 55 degrees,” Timothy said. “We did a drop point in the river near Jordon Point with a 10 oz sinker to soak the bait to the bottom. It was an outer bend and dropped from 15 feet down to 75 or 80 feet.

“This place was the best day I ever fished for catfish.”

The action started quickly, with anglers paddling a lot of big cats, in their 20s and 30s, and two 50-pound blue cats. Then around 9 am, a 7.6-foot Hellcat catfish rod slowly bent and Flathead Luke sprang into action.

He grabbed the rod from the boat stand, stood with the end of the rod between his legs, and began to pump and cast to beat the big, deep catfish.

Ten minutes later, Luke put the fish beside the boat, but it swirled and tried to escape. Timothy thought they had lost the fish.

But the 40 lb test lead, the 10/0 round hook hangs on the 80 lb single wire lead. Luke turned the fish around and brought it back to the boat, and the cat was caught in the net.

The pair circled, yelled, took some photos and weighed the fish on a digital scale—just over 74 pounds, Flathead Luke’s personal best blue catfish record.

Read next steps: Young man in Alabama catches and releases a 70-pound catfish

Luke said the fish was so big that he could ride on it like a pony and ride the cat when he released the fish.

During two days of fishing, the Langleys caught about 30 blue cats, ranging in weight from 10 pounds to over 70 pounds.

“Luke is excited and ready to go back to James River,” Timothy said.

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