TPWD News Release — Jan. 26, 2004
“I’ve been waiting for this fish for a while. It was a total just excited, different state of mind when I saw it,” said Mullennix, who’s been fishing catfish for 10 years, (since he was 17). “There was something about the blue (catfish) that grabbed a hold of me and I stuck with it,” (and he means that both figuratively and literally). How exactly did he “reel in” a fish that large? “I guess I gave it everything I could to get it over the ledge. I kept it out there in 10-12 inches of water and kept pouring water over it. I was too scared to put it on a stringer, or out in the water.”
Mullennix donated the fish to the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens, where it is doing just fine, according to hatchery manager Jim Matthews. To be considered for a world record by the International Game Fish Association, a fish cannot contain any foreign objects that could alter its weight. X-rays taken at the TFFC gave the catfish a clean bill of health.
The catfish is acclimating to its new environment and is being treated for stress—standard procedure for new fish at TFFC. Currently the fish is isolated in its own tank and responding well to treatment. Visitors are able to view the catfish during the regularly scheduled tram tour Tuesday-Friday at 11:30 a.m., Saturday at 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. and Sunday 2:30 p.m. Guided walking tours to see the fish before it is moved to a permanent display area are scheduled at 10 a.m., 1 and 3 p.m. TFFC exhibits coordinator Genie Hilton hopes to move the catfish to its permanent display quarters in about two weeks.
Mullennix has two sons, ages 3 and 6 who sometimes accompany him when he fishes.
“They were real excited. They’ve been out there with me. It gives you great enjoyment when you do catch these fish and its quality time being out there — there’s nothing bothering you. There’s nothing in the world like it. It’s something every kid should learn to enjoy.”
The Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center is an innovative aquatic nature center and hatchery complex operated by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department located 75 miles SE of Dallas on FM 2495 four miles east of Athens.
Attractions include 300,000 gallons of aquariums, daily dive show and on-site fishing. Hours are Tues.-Sat. 9 a.m.-4 p.m. and Sunday 1-4 p.m. Admission is as follows: adults $5.50, seniors $4.50, children ages 4-12, $3.50. For information, visit the Web (http://tpwd.texas.gov/) and click on fishing or call the Center at (903) 676-2277.