Little toy reel meets real big fish

There are fish stories, and then there are fish stories. David Hayes of Wilkes County has a whopper of a tale after reeling in a 21 pound, 1 ounce channel catfish that broke the state record.

For the record: Wilkes County resident David Hayes with his record-breaking channel catfish, caught with his granddaugher Alyssa’s Barbie Doll fishing rig. Courtesy Ncwrc

Often, when an expert angler breaks a record, he or she does so with top-of-the-line tackle. Not so in Hayes’ case: He landed the fish on Aug. 5 using his 3-year-old granddaughter Alyssa’s toy-size Barbie Doll rod-and-reel combo.

According to the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, which keeps official count of fishing records, Hayes caught the catfish almost by accident. He and Alyssa were fishing in a small private pond. “After catching two or three bluegill, Alyssa turns to me and says, ‘Papa, I’ve got to go to the bathroom. Hold my fishing rod,’” Hayes recounted. “A few minutes later, the float went under and I saw the water start boiling up. I knew right then that I had my hands full with that fishing rod.”

Twenty-five minutes later, Hayes had the catfish on shore, and a quick trip to a grocery with certified scales confirmed that he’d broken the previous state record by more than 2 pounds. According to an NCWRC press release, Hayes has “been getting a lot of ribbing from folks who kid him about a grown man fishing with a hot-pink Barbie Doll rod and reel,” but the record-breaker is “taking it in stride.”


About Jon Elliston
Former Mountain Xpress managing editor Jon Elliston is the senior editor at WNC magazine.

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