Third grader bags new state record catfish

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 NATCHEZ — Most kids play video games or baseball during their spring breaks.

But Dakota Hinson, 10, did something a little more noteworthy on his first day away from school.

Hinson, a third-grader at McLaurin Elementary, caught a new state-record blue catfish Monday.

The mammoth fish weighed in at 95 pounds on a scale certified by the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks.

Hinson was fishing with his cousin Earl Stafford and family friend David Renfro on the Mississippi River south of Natchez when he thought he had caught his line on a log.

But the floating wood actually turned out to be the biggest fish anyone on the boat had ever seen.

“I thought I was hung up at first because he was so big, but then the line started coming out of the reel,” Hinson said. “I saw his tail flap way up in the air, and my uncle said, ‘You caught a big one!’”

Hinson said it took approximately 20 minutes to reel in the giant fish and haul him into the boat. He reeled him in by himself, but his partners had to help get the monster into the boat.

Gregory Hinson, Dakota’s brother, said they weighed the fish on scales at St. Catherine Creek Wildlife Refuge, and he registered 125 pounds.

“It’s exactly the same (weight) as me,” Dakota said.

While that scale was off, the fish is still 2 pounds heavier than the previous record, held by Carrol Pearson of Gunnison. That fish was also caught on the Mississippi River, near Rosedale, in 1997.

“We certified it, and it is a new state record,” said MDWFP Fisheries Coordinator John Skains. “To be caught on a rod and reel is somewhat unusual. But the fact that (Hinson) is just 10 years old is what makes it especially unique.”

Dakota, who used an Ugly Stick rod, said he enjoys fishing and usually goes every year during spring break.

But while he’s caught catfish before, they’ve never quite compared to Monday’s giant.

“My biggest one was about 14 pounds,” he said.

Stafford caught a 215-pound alligator gar in May 2003, but Dakota said his cousin told him the catfish looked bigger.

And Dakota’s friends are jealous too.

“Everyone says he’s a huge fish,” he said. “(Stafford) told me, ‘That’s the biggest fish I’ve ever seen in my life.’ They were really happy for me.”

Skains said one or two catfish each year are submitted to the MDWFP as state record holders, but none have actually beat Pearson’s record.

Hinson donated the catfish to the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science in Jackson to be studied.

“He’s working on an application now, and he will get a certificate of catching the state record blue catfish,” Skains said. “And the museum is going to prepare him a replica.”

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