Greg Bernal gets some help from friend Janet Momphard in showing off a 130-pound blue catfish he caught in Missouri.
Stephanie S. Cordle / AP
Finally, a great use for those nasty Asian carp - cut them up for bait to catch a potential world-record blue catfish.
That's exactly what 47-year-old fisherman Greg Bernal of Florissant, Mo., did in the wee hours of Tuesday morning.
He and his companion, Janet Momphard of St. Charles, Mo., landed a monster blue catfish - 130 pounds even, 57 inches long, with a 45-inch girth - from the Missouri River, just west of its confluence with the Mississippi River. For bait they were using pieces of the maligned silver carp, one of two Asian carp species threatening to enter and ravage the Great Lakes in Illinois.
Bernal, an unemployed land surveyor, was using heavy tackle with 40-pound-test wire line, and it took him 45 minutes to land the huge cat with Momphard's help, he told the Alton [Ill.] Telegraph. The pair, aboard a johnboat, fought the fish through a thunderstorm about 1 a.m.
The catfish, if verified by the International Game Fish Association, easily would surpass the current world record of 124 pounds for a blue catfish.
Resembling a finny football on steroids, the portly behemoth already has been certified as the new Missouri record, which until the wee hours Tuesday was 103 pounds.
The Ohio record blue cat, set last year, is 96 pounds, from the Ohio River.•
In other fishing news and much closer to home, catfishing is a good bet inland, especially on the Maumee River, where channel cats and an occasional flathead are being taken.
Try still fishing early mornings and nights or using night crawlers below bobbers. The best areas for channel catfish are deeper holes below Mary Jane Thurston State Park and Providence Dam.
Also on the lower river, anglers are catching crappie using minnows while still fishing using minnows in the Old Marina District and the Old Sport Arena area in downtown Toledo, the Ohio Division of Wildlife said.
Smallmouth bass fishing has been excellent in the Blanchard River in Hancock County. Any of the deep pools may be holding fish. Anglers were using worms, minnows, and flies while casting. Best locations are the waterfalls and by Riverbend Park at the State Rt. 568 bridge.
Mike Coon, who lives on Edgewater Drive in Point Place, landed a steelhead trout while recently casting a No. 7 Rapala off the dock on the Ottawa River behind his house.
Coon said he spied the fish and began casting. "After about nine casts I was ready to stop." The fish was too far out. But then it turned in toward the bank, Coon made another cast, and the trout smashed the lure.
He said he always keeps a net handy, and it took "a whole 12 seconds" to net the fish, which ran just the right way. Coon said it has been more than 20 years since he caught a steelhead off the dock.
Steelhead are not common in western Lake Erie, especially in the warm depths of mid-summer. But they are great wanderers, and the odd stray may show up about anywhere, anytime, as Coon's catch proves.
Speaking of steelhead, the Outdoor Writers of Ohio's record fish committee now officially has certified Jason Brooks' 21.3-pound steelhead as the new Ohio record. Brooks of Tallmadge, Ohio, landed the bug trout off central Lake Erie's Avon Point on June 25. OWO is the state's keeper of fish records.
In tournament fishing news, Scott Dobson of Clarkston, Mich., caught a five-bass limit weighing 24 pounds, 2 ounces last Saturday to win $6,418 in the FLW Bass Fishing League Michigan Division tournament on the Detroit River.
Dobson targeted deep flats, using a drop-shot rig with Berkley Gulp baits to catch his limit.
Matt Elkins, Spencerville, Ohio, took second place with five bass at 23-2 to win $1,709, and Jared Rhode, Port Clinton, took third with five bass at 21-10 to win $1,138.
Chuck Hasty of Toledo, won the co-angler division of the event with a five-bass limit weighing 20 pounds, 2 ounces. He won $1,709 by dragging the bottom of the river with a Gulp Goby to land his limit.
The next BFL Michigan Division tournament is set for July 31, at St. Clair River in Harrison Township, Mich.
Brian Zins, a retired marine gunnery sergeant from Poland, Ohio, has won the national pistol championship at the 103rd National Rifle and Pistol Matches at Camp Perry.
It is the ninth such title for Zins, who last won in 2008 and who finished third last year. Zins fired an aggregate score of 2650-134X out of a possible 2700. The X-score represents the number of perfect center-shot bull's-eyes fired and is tallied to break possible numerical ties.
Philip Hemphill, a police captain from Clinton, Miss., finished second at 2643-128X, and Robert Park, an army staff sergeant from Fort Mitchell, Ala., was third at 2634-116X.
Toledo's Jim Lenardson, a former national pistol champion, finished seventh in the high master-civilian category at 2601-109X.
The national pistol title is based on total scores from three sub-championships - .22, centerfire, and .45. Zins won the .22 title at 894-53X out of a possible 900, then finished second in centerfire at 884-37X, and third in .45 at 872-44X.
The centerfire title went to John Ennis, an army staff sergeant from Fortson, Ga., at 855-44X, and the .45 title went to John Zurek, of Tucson, Ariz., at 877-34X.
The National Matches continue with smallbore or .22 rifle competition, which runs through next week. Visitors are welcome at the Matches and Camp Perry grounds, off State Rt. 2 west of Port Clinton.
Upcoming - Saturday, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., Straightened Arrows Archery Club, "Outdoor Youth Experience," public 30-target 3-D archery event; archers ages 17 and under shoot free; concessions free; limited equipment available fort newcomers; range 6872 State Rt. 15 at Defiance County Fish and Game Club across from Oxbow State Wildlife Area, five miles from Defiance Ohio; visit online at straightenedarrows.org or call Allan Hansford at 419-439-3155.
Saturday, 50-bird trapshoot, noon, Wolf Creek Sportsmen's Association, 349 Teachout Rd. north of State Rt. 2, Curtice, steak dinner, 4 p.m., call Rick Ferguson 419-836-5264.
Saturday and Sunday, Appleseed Shoot, marksmanship clinic, at Sandusky County Sportsmen's Club, 3950 State Rt. 600 east of Gibsonburg; for details, visit online appleseedinfo.org.
Contact Steve Pollick at: