When I was young, I once ate a burrito that was about as big as my head.
Up until a week ago, I considered that a pretty big accomplishment for a kid. But then 5-year-old Kenzie Chakouian came along.
Kenzie was on a family fishing trip last weekend at nearby Navarro Mills Lake, along with family friend John Kenneson, when dropping temperatures caused her dad, Jeff, who is a track and field assistant coach at Baylor, to start thinking about packing up and heading home.
“We had been drifting on the lake for about an hour and it started to get pretty cold,” he said. “It was a slow day, and we were about to bring in the baits and put the poles away when one of them bent over.”
Kenzie instinctively grabbed the pole and started reeling, and they knew immediately that getting the fish aboard wouldn’t be easy. “It was pretty hard for her to reel, but we just told her to keep going and not to let go of the pole,” Jeff said. “We thought it was probably a 10- to 15-pound fish at first.”
The youngster kept working the fish, and after about 10 minutes, had managed to get it close to the boat. As soon as it caught sight of the craft, though, it turned and bolted back toward open water. “This happened about four times,” Jeff said, adding that Kenzie kept saying she wasn’t giving up and wanted to catch “the biggest giant fish.”
They were using chicken for bait on Santee Cooper rigs, which is pretty much a Carolina rig with a small bobber located above the hook to keep the bait suspended off the bottom.
After about 20 minutes, they saw the fish surface and roll. “We had no idea it was that big until we saw it,” Jeff said, “so we grabbed the net and got serious.”
A little while later, the fish had tired out, so the next time the 5 year-old dynamo angler cranked it close to the boat, Kenneson was able to scoop it up with the net.
Kenzie’s mother, Sam, described her daughter’s reaction to catching the monster-sized fish.
“She was so excited,” Sam said. “She kept telling me it was, ‘the most gigantic fish I have ever seen in my whole entire life!’ and then had to call everybody in the family to tell them about it.”
The big blue catfish weighed 39.75 pounds, measured 42 ¾ inches in length, had a 25 3/8 inch girth, and was almost as big as Kenzie. It was weighed and measured at Brazos Feed & Supply in Waco, which is an official Texas Parks & Wildlife Department weigh station.
Living high on the hog?
Outdoorsmen don’t just talk about what’s wrong. We get creative and come up with possible solutions to problems. That’s part of what keeps us leaps ahead of the fish and game we pursue.
Centex outdoorsman and wildlife biologist Josh Sears contacted me with some follow-up on last weekend’s outdoors column highlighting the issue of feral hog overpopulation in Texas. Sears said that when you want to make something happen, bring money into the equation.
“I’d like to see more lucrative incentives for hunting and trapping explored,” Sears said. “Things like bounties have proven effective in the past, and a bounty system would both save taxpayer money and provide more income for everyday hunters.”
He also says wider-scale incentives could prove effective at controlling the spike in wild hog populations, such as banding and tagging (with options to claim merchandise like traps, blinds, guns, and taxidermy) like is used with geese and other waterfowl, or creating a demand for wild hog meat grocery stores and restaurants.
Like with most complex issues, a simple solution won’t solve the problem, but putting good ideas together into a comprehensive plan will surely make a difference.