They don't call him Flathead Ed for nothing.
Eddie "Flathead Ed" Wilcoxson, 56, on Friday caught a 76.52-pound flathead catfish, claiming an Arizona record and the honor of having landed the biggest fish of any kind in state history.
The monstrous flathead began taking the 2-pound carp he was using as bait at about 2 a.m. on Barrett Lake north of Phoenix. Wilcoxson, who had been sleeping on a 24-foot pontoon boat with his line in the water, boated the behemoth about 35 minutes later."Everybody's got the same chance I do," he said afterward. "You just have to get out and do it." The fish was caught, on 60-pound braided line, after a 35-minute struggle. It measured 53.5 inches and boasted a 34.75-inch girth.
Before Friday, the heaviest fish caught in Arizona was a 74-pound flathead catfish caught in 1988 on the Colorado River, according to an Arizona Game and Fish Department news release. The previous inland waters state record was a 71-pound, 10.24-ounce flathead caught in 2003 at San Carlos Lake.
It seems fitting that someone known as Flathead Ed would beat those old records.
"I sleep out on the water three to four days sometimes," said Wilcoxson, a lifelong angler who obtained his guide license on April 1. "Sometimes during Thanksgiving I'll spend three weeks straight out there. Also, I fished 39 weekends last year."
For the sake of comparison, the International Game Fish Assn. lists a 123-pound flathead as the all-tackle world record. That monster was caught in 1998 at Elk City Reservoir in Kansas.