Virginia man reels in record-breaking catfish with a $20 Walmart rod

Virginia resident Jeffrey Dill reeled in a record-breaking flathead catfish from the Smith in Virginia Beach.

(Thanks to Oceans East Bait and Tackle)

A Virginia man made the catch of a lifetime on Saturday when he reeled in a 68-pound flathead catfish, hitting a state record that was almost 25 years ago.

Angler Jeffrey Dill said that it was not easy, the pull of the “monster” fish from Lake Smith in Virginia Beach with his $20 rod from Walmart — but he did it.

“I’ve got him on the dock, held him down. He was so great,” Dill told WAVY to admit that he struggled with the creature for at least 15 minutes.

“It was a monster. It was a true river monster.”

Chad Boyce, fish biologist

Then he pulled the giant fish, which he nicknamed “Big Earle,” to the nearby Oceans East Bait and Tackle to be measured. A biologist from the Virginia Department of Game and inland fisheries (DGIF) met the man to look out for on the roads.


A digital scale showed the fish weighed 68.8 pounds, more than the previous record holder with 2.4 pounds.

(Oceans East Bait and Tackle)

A digital scale showed the fish weighed 68.8 pounds — approximately 2.4 pounds more than the previous record-setting flathead catfish caught by Mike Wilson along the Occoquan Reservoir on May 6, 1994.

“It was a true river monster, Chad Boyce, fish biologist with the Virginia DGIF, told WAVY. “It was a big fish that you don’t expect to see in this part of the state, especially in the More Smith. That is definitely a trophy.”

Oceans East Bait and Tackle posted a picture of the whopper on Facebook, garnering hundreds of likes and dozens of comments under the impression of the local population.

“This saw catfish when he weighed in. Couldn’t believe it weighed that much,” one man said.


Virginia resident Jeffrey Dill and his family pose with the 68-pound flathead catfish he caught in Lake Smith.

(Oceans East Bait and Tackle)

“Monsta! Nice Work,” another added.

“How many ducks that thing got in her belly?” a Facebook user asked.

Dill said that his family and friends were impressed by his winning catch.

“I spoke with a number of my older friends and they said that some people fish their whole lives and never near a state record. It is a big deal,” Dill told WFXR.

More Smith, in Northampton Boulevard, is shallow, measuring only about 5 feet deep. But it is still a fishing hotspot, thanks to the many largemouth bass population.

“There are opportunities to catch a quote,” the Virginia DGIF says. “The lake also has white catfish, crappie, white perch, bluegill, and flathead catfish.”

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