FREDERICKTOWN — Some of the best birthday presents are the ones you give yourself.
A Knox County resident recently did just that on his 60th birthday, when he hauled in a 51-pound catfish out of Knox Lake on Monday.
“I’ve never caught anything that big,” said Searl Kennedy, who needed some help bringing the big guy onto dry land.
Kennedy was fishing around 2 a.m. on a bank near the marina when he felt the bite.
“He was able to drag the fish to the edge,” Kennedy’s friend Jim Silliman recalled. “I had to help him bring it in.”
Kennedy has had bigger battles recently than a 51-pound fish. He had lost a leg and, while in the hospital, received a bad blood transfusion and had to have a liver transplant.
Recently, Kennedy was back in the hospital with a low white blood cell count. He left a few days later, and had enough strength to do some angling on his birthday.
Kennedy didn’t use any special bait to bring in his catch.
“Just a regular old nightcrawler,” he said.
The two men placed the fish in a tank filled with water. They drove it around in the back of their pickup truck all day, showing off their prize, before going back to the lake to let the fish go.
“He’s still a baby,” Silliman said. “Some of these guys can get to over 200 pounds. We’ll take him back and give him a chance.”