On the last week of summer vacation, incoming Blaine High School sophomore Cole Abshere reeled in a record-breaking channel catfish at Lake Terrell in Ferndale.
Cole Abshere’s fish – his first ever catfish – weighed a state-record 37.7 pounds and measured 42 inches long, according to Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife officials.
The Blaine 16-year-old and his grandfather, Joe Morin, went fishing on August 20 at the public pier on Lake Terrell. Cole Abshere had fished the lake a couple weeks before with his parents and a friend. His friend caught two small catfish and ever since, Cole Abshere wanted to catch one.
“’I want to get a catfish,’ he kept saying that,” said his mother, Angela Abshere.
On his last cast of the day, using a night crawler, he got a big bite. It took 45 minutes to reel it in on his basic fishing pole with an 8-pound line, Angela Abshere said.
The line finally broke, when the fish was in knee-deep water near the shore. Cole Abshere and his grandfather didn’t have a net but managed to scoop the tired, slippery fish onto the shore.
“That fish was a monster,” said Brad Otto, natural resources technician with the state Department of Fish and Wildlife. Otto was at the lake and thought the fish could be a state record.
Otto’s seen 20-pound catfish caught in Lake Terrell, but nothing like Cole Abshere’s fish. He looked up the previous state record channel catfish in WDFW’s database. It was a 36.2 pounds. Ross Kincaid caught it in a pond along Interstate 82 near Toppenish, south of Yakima, in 1999.
Otto, Abshere and Morin drove the fish down Lake Terrell Road to Barlean’s Fishery and weighed it. The digital scale ticked up to 37.7 pounds as employees and customers applauded.
“Everyone was cheering, high-fiving, hitting Cole on the back,” said his mother, who made it to Barlean’s for the official weighing.
Barlean’s posted a story about the record on its Facebook page that has since been shared nearly 250 times. “It’s been a whirlwind of a week,” Angela Abshere said.
WDFW took the fish’s head and spine to study and to determine its age. The agency also harvested its eggs. WDFW biologist Justin Spinelli guessed that the fish was either eight or 14 years old; WDFW last stocked catfish in the lake in 2005 and 2011. Catfish live about eight years on average, Spinelli said.
Barlean’s processed the fish for the Absheres for free, cutting and wrapping 25 pounds of catfish steaks.