Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Giant Catfish in Fresno County's Millerton Lake?

I remember the first time I went fishing with my stepfather(I was around nine or so) and he told me this story of a friend of his who had supposedly seen a giant catfish in Millerton Lake.

The story goes that the man was fishing around the Friant Dam, when, while he was moving around, accidentally knocked off the boat motor. He was able to make it to shore using the trolling motor, but decided that he wanted to try to retrieve the motor as it was new and he had paid a lot for it.

The man rented some dive equipment and returned the next weekend. To lift his motor back to the surface, he took with him several large balloons that he would fill with a small auxiliary tank that would lift the motor back to the surface. After descending to the bottom, he began searching for his motor. After several minutes he came across something that he wouldn't have believed if he hadn't seen it for himself. Staring at him was an extremely large catfish. According to him the mouth was so big it could have easily have swallowed him. He estimated the length to be between 8-10' long. This was a quick estimate has he didn't stick around long enough to get a thorough look at it. Needless to say he got the hell out of there and never did retrieve his motor.

Now I don't know if this story is just another variant of the big fish that got away or something else, but I thought it was worth mentioning. I know back east, especially in the south large catfish have been known to be caught. Some even match the descriptions that I mentioned above. And catfish do have a fast growth rate, and they continue to grow all there life.

I wouldn't be surprised if there were several large catfish at the bottom of Millerton Lake near the dam hiding where no one will bother them. Their only company a forgotten motor boat engine that has long since rusted away.

24 comments:

Chris Hangsleben said...

The biggest catfish I ever caught was about 4 and a half foot long, 62 pounds, and put up a big fight.

There's only one real way to catch a fish like this, it's called noodling. Native to Oklahoma, I'm here to share it with Cali...

Google it if you like. It's NOT for the faint of heart...

Michael said...

I've seen noodling before, but only on TV. Not sure if it's done here, at least I don't know anyone who has.

The largest cat I ever saw was a (relatively) small 14 pounder my step dad caught at Hensley. But I've seen pics of people that had caught larger ones like you mentioned.

Dale Stewart said...

There was a story in the Bee the other day about a local guy who had caught several huge stripped bass at Millerton. I searched for the story online with no luck. But, here's a
story about a giant sturgeon.
http://www.redding.com/news/2009/may/07/huge-sturggeon-surfaces-at-lake-shasta/

JohnJayJay said...

I think you need to tie this all together in a UFO/catfish conspiracy type thing. Catfish are just plain nasty looking, and certainly look like they could be from alien DNA. Look into it.

Carrie said...

I only care if they are frying it. Because I want some!

Michael said...

@Dale: I saw that article, guy made me jealous. I actually went sturgeon fishing with my step dad years ago and it was one of the best trips I had. Those things fight like crazy.

@JohnJayJay: I could possibly do that, but you need to hang out with us more. If you do that then maybe I will look into this connection.

@Carrie: Not sure how they would taste, I remember eating the 14lb cat my step dad caught and it didn't really taste that good. Something about the older they get the tougher the meat is or something.

JohnJayJay said...

Would love to. Next time youre out and about with the crew shoot me a text and we'll hook up. (559 259 8239)

Cassie said...

The "catfish" caught in the Philippines is not a catfish it is a whale shark. Look it up.

Anonymous said...

I think you guys should call or get a hold of Jeremy Wade the guy off the show River Monsters. He will be able to catch the monster.

Anonymous said...

This catfish story is very true there is a giant catfish at the bottom of millerton lake.About 15 years ago me and my ucles were floating out to dirt mound in a tube,as we got about half way out i spotted what seem to be a clear frizzbee type of plastic upon retreiving it and getting a better look at it turnd out to be an eye lid of a very large fish.The lid measured 12 inches across,this carrys over about 4 years later when me and my aunt went fishing while the danm was realy low,and decide to fish down the dam we were there for a while without a bite until we both started losing our bait continuisly,i thought we were losing it on the bed of rocks that was in front of us so i went up top to check our cast.As i got to the top i just froze at what i saw a giant greyish fish that looked to be about 10 feet in length i yelled at my aunt to come uo and check for herself but when i told her she kept trying to cast her line out to catch it which was impossible ever since than i will never go swimming in millerton lake true story i put that on every one of my family memebers.

Anonymous said...

I believe it. This past July I went camping to Millerton Lake. Around 11 pm, we decided to take a ride on my boat. I was almost at the dam area when I saw what looked like 6-8 ft log on the surface about 20 ft away from the boat. I quickly turned around and what was on the surface had quickly disappeard. My friends wondered what it was. I told them that it was probably a big catfish that was swimming on the surface. I bet there are some big fish in there.

mamma said...

The biggest catfish that I ever caught was out of a private pond up in Northern Cali. It was the summer of 1985 and I was 6 months pregnant with my second son. This bitch of a fish kept steeling every rig I through out to it, finally, I got smart and put on a steel leader and a live cricket, She weighed in at 74.4 lbs and was almost 6 feet long. I got all my rigs back, she had 'em all, needless to say, she was some good eating' catfish, we barbecued her and berried the eggs back in the pond. Now, the hatched eggs help keep the duck population down in that pond!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

I dont doubt that there are some huge catfish down there! You have to figure that the lake was made in the 1940's and has a maximum depth of 319 feet with most of it around the 200 foot mark so it is very likely that there is some that are 60 years old or more still lurking about. It sure would be "exciting" to find one of these swimming next to you! =)

Anonymous said...

I am 37 years old and have gone to Millerton lake a lot when i was younger..kid age..and i remember being told about divers that went into the lake and came out scared because they saw an eye of a giant catfish the size of a frizbee looking right at them. I also remember that the catfishes nickname from the other locals was "General" or "The General" i have never forgotten the stories i have heard about him. He definately has been in that lake for quite some time.

Anonymous said...

I know there are monster catfish my pops and i caught one there 10 years ago it was at least 100 pounds we had a hell of a time luggin that sucker in the boat we put the cat back but we still have pictures was a excellent fish I just wanna catch a stripier there :(

Anonymous said...

My friends dad had just told me a story about his uncle who was scuba diving on the walls of the dam along the bottom and had felt what was like a current. He turned around and pointed his flash light, because you couldn't see without it in the dark, and saw what looked so big it was prehistoric. His uncle didn't have exact detail of its whole body, but the cat fish had such a big whisker it was a foot around!

Anonymous said...

I think there is giant cat fish there we need to call one of those people from a show to catch one to prove it. Raider Ball

Anonymous said...

I tried contacting the "river monsters" dude to go there but i got no reply, so i guess he's scared lol. No doubts theres monsters in there tho.

Anonymous said...

My father owned Bill's Sanger Custom Upholstery for years and met all manner of people. He told me the same story of some divers refusing to perform maintenance on the dam without a cage. They claimed that they ran into catfish as well as carp as big as a man. They would swim right up and "bump" you. There are several stories circulating that are similar in nature. Kernel(s) of truth here?

cmod89 said...

I've heard this story too for years. One of these days, Im gonna get myself a big ol' piece of cheese and go get that guy.

Anonymous said...

We used to go up there to the lake
and stay on my parents friends houseboat a lot in the summer growing up. And My now brother-in-law told me how there was a giant catfish down by the dam as big as a diesel cab. I'm (50) years old now, and I have never swam in that lake or any other place that I cannot see the bottom. Only in a pool will I swim. I used to like to water-ski there in high school but wont get knee deep to this day.

Anonymous said...

When I standing on the dam looking down at the lake about 100/150 feet below I saw a fish swimming along the dam. Now what was great about that ? It was about 10 to 18 feet long. It was a long time ago but I know what I saw.
Dave Swanson
801-860-0072

Anonymous said...

I was fishing last night with a couple of my friends at hensley lake madera ca. We had been there maybe 5 hours fishing for cat fish got a couple fish. Around 3 am we see this bird looking thing i want to say it was easily 20 feet in lenght huge bird and it made a horrible noise. Has anyone else seen this thing?

Michael said...

Anon, what you saw may have been what's known as a Thunderbird. Many in the area have seen it. I wrote about it here: http://www.weirdfresno.com/2011/06/large-bird-like-creature-seen-in-fresno.html