Every angler has “the one that got away.” Not every angler, however, catches a catfish so big it breaks their scale – and possible a long-standing record, too.
At Georgia’s Lake Sinclair, the reigning flathead catfish record has held strong for over a decade. Yet Baldwin County native Michael Cuppett could’ve broken that record this year. If he had a bigger scale, that is.
“I pitched a lizard next to a tree. I set the hook,” Michael tells local 13 WMAZ news of how it all began. He and his father were fishing a bass tournament together in March, and couldn’t have even fathomed what happened next.
“Every time we got it close to the boat, it would pull the line back out and it would start once again,” his father, John, adds. The two knew this as “classic signs” of a monster catfish. And 20 minutes later – they were proven correct.
“This one was the biggest one I’d ever caught,” Michael continues, still smiling. It could’ve been the biggest one caught in Georgia’s Lake Sinclair, too. The world will never know, however, as the enormous flathead catfish shattered their scale. The two were, after all, fishing a bass tournament – and were in no way expecting to pull this beast out of March waters. Despite the break, Michael and John took several impressive photos of their behemoth, then threw him back from whence he came.
“It wouldn’t have fit in the live well,” John tells WMAZ with a grin, justifying their decision.
But that didn’t stop Michael from grieving over what could’ve been. Once the father and son got back to shore, Michael was keen to show off the proof of his mega-catch. It was then he would receive some rather shocking statistics.
“My friends said that may be the biggest flathead caught at Sinclair, and one pulled it up on their phone and said the record was 36 pounds,” he reveals.
WMAZ cites the existing Sinclair record at 36 pounds and 11 ounces. As for Michael’s flathead catfish, he estimates it was between 35… and 40 pounds.
Monster Catfish Continues Cuppett Family Legacy
Despite the initial disappointment, Michael is incredibly thankful for the experience. Afterward, he sent a prayer up to his brother, Jonathan, whom he grew up fishing with, right up until his death. Tragically, Michael lost older brother Jonathan to COVID-19 during the worst of the pandemic last year. He was only 35-years-old.
“The night he passed away, I was texting with him about fishing, of course, because that’s all we talk about,” Michael smiles of his sibling. “He didn’t help us win a tournament, but he definitely threw a curveball at us…”
“I imagine he was laughing, ‘You want a big fish? Well, here you go,'” their father added.
Before Jonathan’s death, the brothers took a fishing trip to the coast together.
“Jonathan caught a big drum,” Michael tells WMAZ as he shows off a photo he keeps on his cellphone of his brother, which you can view below. For the Cuppetts, Jonathan’s memory will live on in every fishing trip for the rest of their lives – whether catching monster catfish – or some simple ol’ bass.