BLYTHE -- Rafael Terrones is an admitted fishaholic. The San Bernardino angler spends most weekends in the Palo Verde Valley along the Colorado River fishing the large irrigation drainage ditches for flathead catfish.
It’s a five-year-old addiction, and he says he can’t get enough of the big catfish.
This past weekend, Terrones’ wrestled -- literally -- a flathead from a pipe at a road crossing at one of his favorite canals that later weighed an incredible 73 pounds on a recycling center scale in San Bernardino.
That would make this fish a couple of ounces heavier than the listed California state record of 72 pounds, 14 ounces caught in 2003, and darn close to the record (listed by Arizona) for the largest flathead caught from Colorado River waters at 74 pounds.
Terrones was cooking the cheeks of the huge flathead on Monday when he and his wife Diane told the story of the catch.
Terrones baited his big hook with two goldfish. “They were kind of small so I put two on,” he said. The bait was lowered into the upstream side of the pipe that funnels water under the road crossing. Diane was reading when she heard her husband shouting.
“He was down the bank yelling, ‘I got one, I got one.’ And when he gets the fish out of the drain pipe it looks like a shark,” said Diane Terrones.
Normally, Terrones can usually drags the hooked fish up the bank with the 80-pound test line he uses, but this fish was too big, so he crashed down through the heavy brush and went right into the water to wrestle the fish up on the bank.
“He got the fish out of the water, but he couldn’t lift it,” said Diane. She admitted that she wasn’t going down the steep bank to help (she was thinking about rattlesnakes), so he convinced her to throw him down the tow rope. With the rope tied to the fish, and Diane pulling from the top and Rafael pushing and lifting from the bottom, they got the huge fish up to the road.
Out of breath and excited they sat there looking at the huge catfish telling each other to breath.
At B&B Bait in Blythe, the fish weighed 65 pounds on that scale. Terrones had caught a 63 pounder before and this fish seemed a lot bigger to him. With the fish on ice, they came home and decided to weigh the fish again. They took the fish to an aluminum recycling center and weighed the fish on their certified scale and it weighed just over 73 pounds and was 53 inches long.
They thought it might be a record fish, but they were less concerned about a record than making sure the fish didn’t spoil. So Terrones cut up big flathead for fish tacos. Besides he knew he was going back to Blythe this weekend to catch -- perhaps -- an even bigger flathead.
“We’re not full of baloney, we’re full of catfish,” laughed Rafael Terrones.
RAFAEL TERRONES OF SAN BERNARDINO hoists his massive catfish of 73 pounds.