Hogg Middle School eighth grader, Michael Cazares, recently experienced the catch of his life; a 40.9 lb blue catfish reeled in from Lake Palestine using the only shad (live bait) he had.
Michael enjoys fishing with his older brother, who has taught him a lot of successful strategies and techniques for catching fish. So when his brother says the fish are biting, Michael listens.
“I was at a friend’s house working on a school project when my brother called and said it was a great night to fish,” Michael said. “So we finished up the project and then I went straight home so we could head out to the lake. We had to catch some bait first and we only caught one shad and a few perch. So we cut up the shad to make it last longer.”
Leaving Michael on shore with the rod and reel, his brother got in their canoe and pulled the line out a good distance away from shore before dropping it in the water. They planned to stay for a while so they tied a bell to the reel so that it would ring when a fish pulled it. Around 11 p.m. or so, Michael heard a ring.
“I ran over and started reeling in the line,” he said. “I was afraid I lost it (the fish) for a while because it wasn’t putting up much of a fight.”
As it got closer, Michael said it actually looked small because it was on its side due to the line being wrapped around its fin. But his brother had a better view of it and grabbed the net to help pull it in.
“I was like ‘No way, oh my goodness’,” Michael said. “I actually got a little teary because I was so excited. My brother said we needed to call someone because it might be a record-breaker, but since it was so late we just tied it up in the water so that it wouldn’t die before morning.”
When the sun came up, Michael and his brother took the giant fish to Athens to have it weighed and then returned to release it back into Lake Palestine.
“As a fisherman myself, I am extremely jealous of Michael right now,” Hogg Principal Dr. Eddie Dunn said. “This is a special experience that could not have happened to a more special or responsible young man, as shown by his willingness to release the fish rather than keeping it. Michael is an outstanding student here at Hogg Middle School and we are so proud of him.”
Other than fishing, Michael enjoys playing soccer and being in athletics at Hogg. He is also an AVID student.