Alex Doty caught a 73-pound flathead catfish (right) just two hours after catching and releasing a giant leucistic flathead (left). Courtesy Alex Doty via Facebook
Alex “Flathead” Doty lives to catch monster catfish. The Omaha resident has dialed in a few rivers and streams in Nebraska, where he’ll fish through the night in the hopes of hooking a giant. His patience paid off on Oct. 2, when Doty caught a 49-pound leucistic flathead from a small creek around 3 a.m. A couple hours later, he landed his personal-best flathead in the same spot. The second catfish weighed 72 pounds.
“Check out these whoppers!” the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission wrote in a Facebook post calling attention to the catfish Doty caught on Monday. “One is a rare leucistic flathead, which occurs when the melanin producing gene is masked, but not eliminated.”
Alex Doty with the rare flathead catfish he pulled from a creek in Nebraska. Courtesy Alex Doty via Facebook
Doty tells Outdoor Life that he caught the two giant flatheads from a natural creek he frequents in the eastern part of the state. He followed his usual program, which involved putting his kayak on the water after dusk and fishing all night long.
“That tends to be my schedule, and sometimes I’ll stick it out in the same spot for a full 24 hours,” Doty says. “I’ll usually kayak up to strategic places where I think fish will be moving and then I’ll set up camp on different spots. I’ll usually fish from the bank, or sometimes I’ll drift from the kayak.”
After putting on the creek around 9:30 p.m. on Oct. 1, Doty paddled up to one of his favorite holes and cast out a baited line. He says he typically uses live bluegills or bullheads when targeting big flatheads. Then he waited … for about six hours.
“I was tired, so I made a bed out of my kayak. I laid down maybe five minutes and then the fish of my dreams was on the end of my line. I was just lying there when [the rod] went off.”
Doty says the leucistic catfish looked “almost like a ghost” with pure white skin and blue eyes. He released the rare fish back into the creek and kept working the same hole. Two hours later, around 5:30 a.m., he caught the 73-pounder, which was only 16 pounds shy of the state record. As usual, he released that fish as well.
Catching, photographing, and releasing (also known as CPR) has paid off for Doty in the long run. In some instances, he’s been able to catch the same monster flathead multiple times, and he says he’s pretty sure the 73-pound cat he caught on Monday is the same one he caught and released earlier this summer.
“I used to keep smaller fish sometimes, but now I get more satisfaction from letting every one go,” Doty says. “Last year I caught the same 53-pound fish three times. It was the same fish caught months apart from different locations on the creek. I could tell it was the same fish by its whiskers and the scars on its head.”
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