Texas man catches whopping 55.5 pound blue catfish in Lake Palestine by noodling

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Published 8:28 pm, Friday, June 30, 2017

When Mason Munoz tells you his fishing story, try not to balk if he looks like he’s wrestling a steer instead of catching a fish.

The 20-year-old Palestine resident caught a 55.5-pound blue catfish in Lake Palestine on June 8. To him, it’s a better fishing story than any he could fathom from his imagination. Oh, and he caught it without a pole, using his bare hands. 

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“Pictures don’t do it justice. To be up on it and hold it was just phenomenal,” Munoz told Chron.com. “We were all in shock.”

Munoz, who was a track star in high school and trains in MMA fighting, said he’s always been an adrenaline junkie. It wasn’t until this year that he decided to try noodling for fish with his friend Troy. Watching his friend pull catfish out of the water bare handed was enough to get Munoz to jump in. 

Munoz and his buddies hit Lake Palestine, which is known for producing big cat fish. He said he caught a 20-pound cat fish earlier in the morning but accidentally let it go while pulling it out with one hand, “a rookie mistake.”

Munoz and his friends ended up near a big steel pipe in about 8 feet of water. He ran his hand through the hole to see if there was anything there. Not feeling anything, he stuck his leg in the hole, in the off chance something may bite.

That something was a monster of a blue catfish.

“As soon as I put my leg in the pipe, she tried to pull me in,” Munoz said. “I got my left hand in her mouth and she came up to my elbow. She cut me up good but I got my right hand in there too. That’s when she started going wild.” 

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Munoz was able to wrap his legs around her when the fish settled down for a second. 

His friend Troy taunted him while he wrestled the behemoth in the water. As Troy helped him out of the water and into the boat, Munoz could tell that this was no ordinary catfish. 

“I could tell from the look on his face,” Munoz said. “I thought, golly, what do I have in my hands?” 

Munoz said catching the catfish was one thing. Getting it into the boat was a whole different beast. Luckily, Troy was able to hoist him and the fish into the boat, sealing the deal for the ultimate fishing story. 

Richard Ott, a fishery management biologist out of the Tyler office of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, described Munoz’s catch as “an impressive fish.” 

“Lake Palestine has a reputation for producing some exceptionally large catfish. It’s become a very popular area for hand fishermen,” Ott said. 

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The Palestine Herald reports the Robert McCrummen holds the record for the largest fish caught at Lake Palestine, catching a 64.42 pound fish using a jug line on March 30, 2010. 

Now that he’s caught his record fish, Munoz said he plans to promote noodling further. 

“I have more fun showing people how to catch now,” Munoz said. “When people start hearing about the fish that are caught, I think they’re going to get more involved with it.” 

For those looking to monster fish of their own by noodling, Munoz recommends going with at least one other person. He also recommends using gloves to prevent scarring and wearing tennis shoes in case of hard, rocky surfaces. 

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