'The Biggest Fish We Ever Caught'

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A two-day camping trip to the banks of the Salt River turned into an angler's dream for a husband and wife fishing team.

Juan and Carmen Martinez, camping and fishing about 300 feet below the Diversion Dam at Roosevelt Lake, landed a pair of lunker-sized flathead catfish.

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Juan and Carmen Martinez pose with a 45-pound, 14-ounce catfish caught Sept. 19 at Roosevelt Lake.

The first, caught about 6:30 p.m. Sept. 19, tipped the scales at 45 pounds, 14 ounces.

The second catfish -- caught during the evening hours the following day -- weighed 35 pounds.

Both fish were hooked using bluegill as bait.

"They are the biggest fish we've ever caught," Juan said.

Both flatheads were kept alive until weighed and measured and then were prepared and stored in the freezer to be used for family meals.

"We'll have plenty of fish to eat," Juan said.

While the two flatheads are huge, they are not the biggest ever taken out of Roosevelt.

Flatheads exceeding 70 pounds have been caught in past years, mostly near the Diversion Dam in the Salt River arm down to the lake itself.

Payson Roundup outdoor columnist Dennis Pirch, a co-owner of the Tackle Box in Tonto Basin, said an angler shopped the fishing store last week to purchase 80-pound test line because he "had a 70-plus pound flathead break off."

Like Juan and Carmen Martinez, the angler was using bluegills as bait.

"They go catch the bluegill, then catch the catfish," Pirch said.

Catfish are found in most warm water lakes around Arizona including some of the smaller ones. A 43-pound channel catfish was caught in the 270-surface acre Patagonia Lake in the southern part of the state.

-- To reach Max Foster call 474-5251 ext. 114 or e-mail mfoster@payson.com.

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