Local Angler Lands Big Fish from Little Pond

You might think that a 1.5-acre pond fished by 30,000 people a year wouldn't have any fish left in it, much less big fish.

You'd have a hard time convincing Janice Arnsdorff of that.

On December 13 Arnsdorff pulled a 22-pound catfish out of the casting pond at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center.

"I was fishing about three feet deep using a Carolina rig with a one-ounce weight, a 4-0 Kahle hook and cut bait under a large bobber, on 20-pound test line with a 40-pound leader," Arnsdorff said. "I propped the rod against the dock railing and was standing right next to it casting a trout lure when I saw the bobber go under. Before I could even reach for the rod, it was airborne on its way over the rail. I grabbed it just in time."

After a few photos, the fish was returned to the pond.

Arnsdorff, who manages the Anglers Pavilion at TFFC, is no stranger to fishing. She is one of only five people certified as a Freshwater Elite Angler by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. Elite Anglers must catch five trophy fish of different species.

Arnsdorff also holds, or has held, three Catch & Release State Records and three Water Body Records. She has also earned nine Big Fish Awards, two Catch and Release Awards and one Outstanding Angler Award through TPWD's Angler Recognition Program. For further details on the program visit http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/fishboat/fish/programs/fishrecords/.

While Arnsdorff's job at TFFC is teaching people to fish and helping them have fun while doing it, the big catfish proved she still has a few things to learn. "If I ever do this again, I'll let a person or two hold the rod-very tightly-and reel it in," she said.

Fishing at TFFC is free with admission, and all bait and tackle are furnished. No fishing license is needed. Rainbow trout are stocked into the center's ponds and streams in winter, and catfish are stocked year-around. While most people practice catch-and-release, both trout and catfish may be harvested for an additional fee.

The Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center is located four miles east of Athens at 5550 F.M. 2495. Athens is 75 miles southeast of Dallas. Admission is $5.50 for adults, $4.50 for seniors and $3.50 for children ages 4 through 12. For more information visit www.tpwd.state.tx.us/tffc or call (903) 676-2277.