Local angler lands big catfish in Malheur River

Jacob Mayo shows off his catch, a fish destined for the supper table.

VALE – For Jacob Mayo, last week’s journey to his favorite fishing hole near the Butte Bridge began just like a thousand other fishing expeditions.

Using a 20-pound test line on a pole his grandfather used for Bass competitions, Mayo jammed a night crawler on the hook and cast out into the water as the early evening sun sank on the horizon.

Mayo, 22, was relaxed, enjoying the late-day sounds of the Malheur River when his pole quivered. 

It jumped a second time. 

Then, it bent in half.

“It took off with my line,” said Mayo.

He didn’t know, but “it” was a 25-pound flathead catfish. Not a channel cat, but an old veteran of the river that probably saw and passed by hundreds of hooks with worms. 

But on this day, for some reason, the big fish decided the worm looked like a good late-evening dish.

As the pole bowed, Mayo grabbed it. He then began a nearly 10-minute fight with the river monster. 

The fish battled hard, said Mayo. 

“I had to back up, holding the line,” said Mayo. “I had never had a channel cat fight like that,” said Mayo. 

Mayo said he was “ecstatic” when he brought the fish to the bank. 

He was more surprised when he weighed the fish – 25.5 pounds.

Mayo said he hadn’t fished in about four years.

“I had only been out to the bridge twice,” he said.

His plans?

“I am going right back out there,” Mayo said.

As for the fish, Mayo said he was going to fry it up.

Reporter Pat Caldwell: [email protected] or 541-473-3377.