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Tales of huge catfish keep surfacing from Lake Bloomington. The latest involves longtime buddies Jason Monical and Matt Sutter. Monical, of rural Bloomington, and Sutter, of rural Towanda, caught two monster flatheads that totaled more than 101 pounds.

They were at the home of Sutter’s mother-in-law preparing their boat for a night of catfishing when they cast out a couple of lines while they were getting ready. The rigs each had 80-pound line, circle hooks and fresh live shad.

After they went up to the house for some things, Sutter was the first back to the water. He saw one of the rods was pounding and started reeling while calling to Monical to hurry.

Monical grabbed a net and tried to hoist the beast up but the net broke under the weight. He then grabbed the hoop of the net and pulled the fish up. It weighed 37.5 pounds, according to their digital scale. After pictures, the fish was released. Though they eat 10- to 15-pound channels, bigger fish are released to preserve the fishery and, well, they just don’t taste as good as the smaller ones, Monical said.

They cast more bait out and resumed getting the boat ready. It wasn’t long before they had another pleasant interruption. Sutter again was the first to the rod.

“This one is even bigger,” said Sutter.

Monical was a disbeliever until Sutter handed him the rod and the fish began to pull. The monster was in control at first, swimming away at will and taking line off the spool. After a long fight, Monical was able to get it close but the broken net made landing it difficult. They were on a seawall about 5 feet higher than the water’s surface. Monical handed Sutter the rod and balanced himself with one arm and leg as he grabbed the flathead under the gill plate and lifted with Sutter’s help.

When the catfish was hoisted to the scale, the readout was 64 pounds. That’s even bigger than a catfish that weighed nearly 52 pounds that was caught at Lake Bloomington a few weeks ago by David Shoot. He also was preparing his boat for a catfishing trip when he cast out a line and the big fish took the bait.

Tournament news

Larry Hemmens of Rockford won the Miller Park Carp Classic in Bloomington with one fish weighing 21 pounds.

Awards banquet

The Bloomington Normal Bass Club annual awards banquet will be Wednesday at Times Past Inn in Bloomington. Social hour will begin at 5:30 p.m., dinner will be at 6:30 p.m. Please RSVP with BNBC president Gena Norris at 309-376-7674 or g.norris1@frontier.com by Friday.

Scott Richardson is Pantagraph outdoor editor. Contact him at 309-820-3227 or email srichardson@pantagraph.com.

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