North La. youngster shatters blue catfish mark

Three Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Enforcement agents witnessed and signed off on 12-year-old Lawson Boyte's 114-pound state record blue catfish. (Submitted Photo/Courtesy of Dodie Atwood )

I got him to the surface, and when I saw it, I thought I wasn’t going to get it in.
By JOHN K. FLORES Outdoor Columnist

Not much was happening along the bank of the Mississippi River near Lake Providence where Jim Danley, his son Bo, and nephew Lawson Boyte were fishing for catfish back in early March.
Just as the three anglers were about to leave, things got exciting.
As Boyte was reeling in, he felt something heavy tug on his line. That’s when he hollered, “Ya’ll, get out of my way!”
The two Danleys didn’t believe Boyte at first, and it wasn’t until noise from the reel’s drag releasing line did they take action, realizing he had hooked a big fish.
Quickly, uncle and cousin reeled in their lines, untied the boat’s bowline fastened to a willow tree, and moved away from the bank about 30 feet to ensure no obstructions would prohibit the fish from being landed.
For the next 10 minutes, boy versus monster fish ensued.
Boyte, who attends Oak Grove High School, said “I would pull up and reel back down. It wasn’t much of a fight. It just kept going straight back down. It was like gravity. And most of the time it was taking drag.”
Boyte learned how to reel in big fish from one of his other uncles, who once took him deep-sea fishing.
Played out, the catfish finally came to the surface. It was huge.
Boyte said, “I got him to the surface, and when I saw it, I thought I wasn’t going to get it in. My Uncle Jim always has a gaff hook in his boat. He gaffed him and got it into the boat. We looked at it and didn’t think it was a state record. We were thinking about 93 pounds. When we got it back to the truck, we Googled the weight on the cell phone and found out the state record was 110 pounds.”
According to the state fish records held by the Louisiana Outdoor Writers Association, only two other blue catfish at the time of Boyte’s catch exceeded 100 pounds. Both fish, like Boyte’s blue catfish, also were caught in the Mississippi River.
Keith Day’s 110.19-pound blue catfish was caught in 2005 caught near St. Francisville and Joseph Wiggins’ 105-pound blue cat was caught in 1997 near Baton Rouge.
There was a chance Boyte’s catfish just might make the record book.
What’s more, the task of qualifying a record fish can often be arduous. There is a specific criterion that must be met to maintain the integrity of the state fish records.
“We found a scale at Randall’s Meat Market in Monroe,” Boyte said. “We weighed it and found out the scale wasn’t certified. About the time we got back to Bastrop, my dad called me and said he found a scrap iron place down the road and we went straight there. It weighed 114 pounds.”
Three Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Enforcements agents came out to witness and sign off on Boyte’s scale certificate.
As part of the application process, the fish also was identified officially as a blue catfish by a state biologist, ensuring its place as the new Louisiana state record blue catfish.
Boyte caught his record catfish using a 9-foot Shakespeare Ugly Stick Big Water Rod and Penn reel packed with 65-pound Power Pro braided line.
Upon hearing about the record, Shakespeare sent the young angler five new Ugly Stick rods as a way to congratulate him for his impressive catch.
Boyte says he, his cousin and uncle were fishing in 20 to 30 feet of water using cut shad for bait. His rigging included a 5/0 hook and 3-ounce lead weight.
The youngster also fishes for bass, bream and white perch but says he prefers fishing for catfish because of their size, and they put up more of a fight.
Boyte’s father, Larry, says Lawson and his cousin Bo were born just six weeks apart and spend a lot of time together.
Moreover, his brother-in-law takes them fishing and hunting, mentioning how his son killed his first deer while on one of those trips with his uncle.
The Louisiana Outdoor Writers Association fish records list the top 10 biggest fish in any freshwater/saltwater category, whether standard rod and reel or fly-fishing. Of the top 10 blue catfish listed in the Louisiana record book that now officially includes Boyte’s catch, five were caught from the Mississippi River. What’s more, Mississippi River blue catfish hold places 1 through 4.
Though he holds the state record blue catfish and his family affectionately tease and call him “Big Cat,” Boyte still remains humble, saying, “There’s a lot bigger ones out there. I’m going to try and beat the record and hopefully someday I will.”
If you wish to make a comment or have an anecdote, recipe or story you wish to share, you can contact John K. Flores at 985-395-5586 or or visit
LOWA announces 2014 Youth Journalism contest.
Young writers and photographers have until 5 p.m. July 22 to submit entries for the Louisiana Outdoor Writers Association Youth Journalism Contest.
There are two writing divisions, Junior, ages 7-13; and Senior, ages 14-18; and one photography division, ages 7- 18.
Essays must be 300-1,000 words.
For more information, email LOWA Youth Journalism Contest Chairman Joe Macaluso at

Send all entries to:
The Advocate Outdoors
Attention LOWA/Joe Macaluso
P.O. Box 588
Baton Rouge, LA 70821

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Franklin Banner-Tribune
P.O. Box 566, Franklin, LA 70538
Phone: 337-828-3706
Fax: 337-828-2874

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P.O. Box 948, Morgan City, LA 70381
Phone: 985-384-8370
Fax: 985-384-4255

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