FREDERICKTOWN — Joe Cherryholmes describes himself as an average fisherman. On the first day of autumn, however, he was anything but average.
It was getting toward twilight when the 51-year-old Cherryholmes, who had spent the day fishing in Knox Lake, reeled in a huge 40-pound catfish.
“I’m still kind of shocked about the whole thing,” said Cherryholmes. “I’m no great fisherman by any means.”
Using just a regular pole, 50-pound test line and locally caught minnows for bait, Cherryholmes was just floating around in his kayak when he caught the biggest fish of his life.
“I wasn’t expecting anything that big — especially fishing out of a kayak,” said Cherryholmes, who was three-quarters of the way across the lake from the marina when the big flathead struck. “The smaller ones fight harder. The bigger ones are more sluggish. It took me 25 minutes to half-an-hour to reel him in.”
The fish was so big it nearly tore his net and it was too bulky to pull up onto the kayak. Cherryholmes’ damaged net was strong enough to hold the fish next to the boat until he could be brought in.
Cherryholmes is on a roll, having nearly caught a 15- to 20-pound flathead earlier in the week.
“I got him right up next to the kayak,” said Cherryholmes of his earier catch. “He just slid right off the hook. I was just totally thrilled. I wasn’t even upset.”
With Knox Lake visible from his home, it only took a gentle nudge to get him to start fishing again.
“If the (Mount Vernon News) hadn’t put in the picture of the guy catching the big one last year, I might not have attempted it,” said Cherryholmes, who started taking his grandchildren, but was fishing solo for his big moment.
While Cherryholmes releases most of the fish he catches, this monster cat is destined for his smoker and his dinner plate.
“People don’t realize what good eating these big flatheads are,” said Cherryholmes, who enjoys it served with rice. “They’re considered a delicacy. It goes in the smoker for about 12 hours on pretty low heat, using three different kinds of wood. It will just melt in your mouth when you’re done. I use hickory, maple and cherry.”
Cherryholmes, who will share the prize flathead with his mother and other family members, expects that this will last him all winter. He is hoping to pair it up with some recipes from a Korean neighbor soon.
“They have some great vegetable dishes,” said Cherryholmes. “Hopefully, I can get them to share some of their recipes.”?