Back in January, one lucky young man in Iowa landed a massive catfish while he was out ice fishing under an absolutely stunning sunset.
Gavin Campbell, a native of Council Bluffs, Iowa, was out ice fishing at Lake Manawa back in January when something unexpected happened. The 24-year-old felt one of the strongest tugs he’s ever felt while on the ice. Turns out he had hooked a 34-pound flathead catfish — the biggest fish he’s ever caught while ice fishing.
For those of you who don’t know, Lake Manawa is considered to be one of western Iowa’s premier spots for boating, hiking, and relaxing outdoors. The lake was originally constructed in 1881 after a Missouri River flood. Today, there are more than 1,500 acres of land that surround it as it continues to be a major recreation spot for visitors to the state. The name “Manawa” is a Native American term meaning peace and comfort.
But peace and comfort weren’t to be had on the night of January 31. Campbell explained how intense his encounter with the catfish was during an interview with Field & Stream.
“The fight was unlike anything I’ve ever caught through the ice,” Campbell told the outlet. “It was constant power. It was a whole new battle to get that big of a fish to turn its head on a rod and reel that wasn’t meant for something of its size.”
Iowa DNR Shouts Out Campbell on Instagram after Landing Massive Catfish
It was one surprise after another for Gavin Campbell. After he caught his massive catfish, he ended up getting a shout-out from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources on Instagram. You can see the young man posing with the 34-pound fish with a beautiful sunset full of reds, oranges, and pinks in the background. Check out the photo down below:
“Surprise! That’s no panfish. That’s a 40-inch, 34-pound Iowa Master Angler flathead catfish!” the agency said in its post. “Gavin Campbell was recently ice fishing Lake Manawa when he pulled this monster from the ice.”
Gavin Campbell is only 24 but he is a lifelong fisherman. He says that he’s caught a “decent number of catfish through the ice” during his fishing career, but none of them can compare to his latest catch.
“Catching it was a real rush,” he said. “That was followed by relief for landing him at the perfect time for a picture. It makes me feel like all the time I spend on the ice paid off.”
That was Campbell’s only fish of the night, but it was definitely worth it.
“I only caught one fish that night but it took us the whole night to get it in.”