Niles’ Rodney Akey caught this state record 49 pound, 8 ounce flathead catfish in the St. Joseph River Tuesday evening. Daily Star photo/SCOTT NOVAK

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State-record catfish caught by Niles man

Published 4:52pm Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Rodney Akey, of Niles, told his buddy he was going to land a big catfish Tuesday.

He never expected it to be a state record.

Akey caught a state-record 49-pound, 8-ounce flathead catfish in the St. Joseph River Tuesday evening.

This lunker was caught in the St. Joseph River in Berrien Springs. Daily Star photo/SCOTT NOVAK

The previous state record was 47 pounds, 8 ounces set in 1943.

Akey caught the fish using cut bait and a heavy-duty six-foot pole while shore fishing somewhere in Berrien Springs. Akey wouldn’t divulge the exact area in which he was fishing.

He cast the line and let it sit for 10 minutes before getting a bite. It took him about 30 minutes to reel in the monster. Akey and a friend, Will Skalla, of Niles, pulled the fish to shore.

“Imagine trying to drag a pissed off alligator from the water by yanking it out by its jaws,” Akey said. “That’s what it was like.”

Akey had the fish weighed and certified at the Department of Natural Resources office in Plainwell.

He plans to get the fish stuffed and mount it either at his home or a local bait shop.

“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing,” Akey said. “I knew it was big, but I didn’t know it would be a darn state record.”

Akey, who fishes frequently, said his previous best catch was a 42-pounder.

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