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06/02/03 - Lake Palestine

Big Fish Story

An East Texas fisherman hooked a big surprise this weekend, a flathead catfish about five times the size of most cats. And while the massive fish isn't a state record, it's still one of the biggest fish ever pulled out of a local lake.

Ray Allen Junior grew up fishing East Texas. His father taught him how to lay a trot line at an early age. Today, he still loves the adrenaline rush of trying to make sure each fish doesn't become the one that got away. "It's unexplainable when you stick in your hand and you feel him go whoosh. And I mean that's how he do you too, pull your whole body."

That's what happened early Sunday morning. Around 4 AM, Allen found a large catfish floundering on his line in Lake Palestine. "I noticed the swirl and all and I knew it was one bad, bad fish. I just started easing towards him and then he'd take off and go to the bottom, and I'd back up."

Ray battled the goliath for more than a half hour before finally winning the fight. Later in the morning, the fish weighed in at 96 lbs.

East Texas Angler, Barry Hanson says what's just as impressive as the catfish's size is it's age. "Most fish have an average weight growth per year of two pounds or less. So, you do the math. That fish is pretty old."

If the fish is 50 or 60 year's old, that means he was swimming in the Neches river long before the damn near Frankston ever created Lake Palestine. Ray Allen says as a little boy, he too was on the river before there was a lake. "See, I'm 45. So he was still a baby when I was. To have been there that long, that's weird."

While the 96 pound catch is Allen's largest, it is not a record for Lake Palestine. The biggest fish ever pulled out of the lake weighed in at 99.5 pounds back in 1993. The state record is 114 pounds out of Lake Livingston.

Stephen Parr, reporting.

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