Stunned Fisherman Notices Something Out of Place In The Mouth of A Mammoth Catfish
It’s an impressive feat for any fisherman to capture a catfish successfully. But for one fisherman, catching such a fish turned out to be far more than he bargained for.
What was supposed to be the achievement of a lifetime turned out to also be something strange and menacing. Let’s dive into his story.
The Catch of a Lifetime
With a loud thud, the enormous animal dropped onto the deck, the small boat swaying and rocking under its weight.
For this fisherman, it was the largest catch of his life. As he took in the enormous catfish, he enjoyed a quick moment of pride before noticing something horrific inside the fish’s mouth, suddenly realizing that this was no ordinary catfish.
Who Is Eugene Cronley?
That fisherman was Eugene Cronley, who hails from Brandon, Mississippi. Fishing had always played a part in his life, but after retirement, he made it his goal to catch a particular type of fish.
He thoroughly enjoyed catching the types of fish he could cook and sometimes sell to people or restaurants in the area, and he decided that a catfish would be the ultimate score.
A Tough Fish to Catch
The catfish is widely regarded as one of the most challenging fish to capture. Their enormous size and aggressive nature contribute to the dangers of trying to catch one.
Their spines and stingers are also sometimes charged with a dangerous poison. Fishermen commonly get stung by them, causing irritating side effects like rashes, infections, and long-lasting skin damage. But that’s not all.
Aggressive in and Out of the Water
Setting out to catch a catfish is not a one-person job. With no one to help in case of an enormous catch, the fisherman is at considerable risk of getting dragged down, and there can even be a possibility of drowning.
Eugene Cronley chose to pursue his catfishing hobby alone. But on that fateful day, he would regret not asking a friend to accompany him.
Facing a Deadly Beast
Eugene knew the waters of the Mississippi like the back of his hand. He could go around it blindfolded and still know exactly where he was. And even though there were wild alligators and giant turtles around, he was never afraid for his life.
When facing the enormous catfish that would become the catch of his life, he realized he had made a big mistake—he should never have gone into the waters alone.
The Waiting Game
Eugene spent a long time waiting for the catfish that would test his fishing abilities. At that point, he had been calmly cruising around the Mississippi River in his little boat for two hours and counting.
So far, he had caught a trout, which is a great catch. Still, it wasn’t the catch that he wanted. However, there are times when you need to be careful what you wish for, and this was one of those times.
The Catch of a Lifetime
After hours of waiting, he could feel that a large fish had taken the bait. His entire boat shook. With the way the boat was moving, it looked to be a strong and heavy fish.
Tensing his muscles, Eugene pulled the rod with all his might to get the fish out of the water. It took him almost an hour, but he finally got the fish onto his boat. But it was then that he noticed something strange.
What Is That Sticking Out of Its Mouth?
Besides Eugene’s hook, there was something else inside the catfish’s mouth, though he could not identify what it was since the fish itself was still alive, keeping its mouth half-closed.
With great care, Eugene attempted to open the catfish’s mouth. He grabbed its head to avoid getting bitten and pried it open. When he saw what was inside the catfish’s mouth, he was utterly baffled.
A Foot and…Nothing Else
Surprisingly, the catfish had an entire alligator foot in its mouth, claws, and everything! The foot’s wound looked fresh, and Eugene concluded it had recently been ripped off.
Eugene couldn’t shake his suspicion that the catfish was the culprit. Could it be possible? A catfish overpowering an alligator, biting off its entire foot?
It didn’t seem very likely that a catfish could do that, but who knows? Eugene had never seen such a big, strong catfish in his life. After all, he had almost been dragged down into the water by it himself.
The catfish certainly didn’t look like anything you’d find in the rivers of Mississippi; it looked more like something from a sci-fi movie. And when he brought it to the attention of the local authorities, he was in for another huge surprise.
What a Record
The catfish weighed almost 60 kilograms, or 131 pounds, to be exact. In addition, it reached a whopping 16.6 inches in length and 41 inches in circumference, or 1.4 and 1.04 meters, respectively. All these measurements proved that Eugene had set the world record for catching the biggest catfish ever.
Eugene was ecstatic. As a long-time fisherman, it would be his life’s most outstanding fishing achievement—and it certainly didn’t come easy.
A Feeling He Couldn't Shake
Cronley followed his fantastic catch with an interview with the media. He explained, “We had to untie the boat and float down the river.”
“I couldn’t move him. I’d pull on him and take in a foot of line; then he’d pull and take ten feet.” He continued, “It is truly a fish of a lifetime.” Eugene deserved to be proud, but something bothered him—was the catfish really strong enough to rip off an alligator’s foot?
Flaunting His Achievement
Eugene wasn’t finished showing off just yet. After returning to the dock, other fishermen noticed his huge haul, and everyone praised him for the catch. He placed the catfish in a cooler box before loading it onto his truck.
Driving home, he listened to the radio like any other day. However, he didn’t know just how much attention he had drawn to himself, especially when an uninvited guest would show up at his home the next day.
A Visitor in the Morning
Eugene started the next day like he usually would; a cup of coffee and some quiet time seemed like the perfect morning. But shortly after waking up, someone knocked on his door.
At ten in the morning, he wasn’t sure who would be visiting him. He got up from his chair and walked to the door to open it. And when he did, he couldn’t believe his eyes.
Eugene opened his front door to a man in uniform. With a confused expression, Eugene asked, “Can I help you?”
The man explained he was there to investigate a potential poaching case that sources claimed may have happened the previous afternoon. Now, Eugene was even more confused. Poaching? Yesterday afternoon? Where was all this going?
The Mississippi Wildlife Federation
He informed Eugene he was a representative of the Mississippi Wildlife Federation, whose job is to protect and conserve nature against any threat—including poaching. “You were out fishing yesterday, weren’t you?” he asked.
All Eugene could do was nod. His mind was reeling. Did this have something to do with the catfish? Was it an uncommon species? Is that why it was so big? Am I in trouble? He had no idea what the man was about to say.
An Incident in the River
“There was a possible incident yesterday on the waters of the Mississippi.” The man had talked to some fishermen, and they had a lot to say about Eugene bragging about his impressive catch. “We just want to make sure you didn’t do anything illegal,” the man remarked.
He started to ask Eugene more detailed questions about the day before. Why was he so interested? And what did it mean for Eugene and his catch?
After that worrying line of questioning, the man introduced himself as Hank Arlington. He worked closely with the Mississippi Wildlife Foundation and was passionate about the preservation of wildlife and its habitats.
When he heard about the possibility of a poaching incident, he sought to investigate the matter, which could mean trouble for Eugene.
Arlington continued, “Sir, what were you doing yesterday when you went to the lake? Did you catch anything?”
Eugene knew he had to be honest and decided it would be best for everyone to tell him everything. Maybe then, if worst came to worst, he might at least get a lighter sentence.
This Is the Truth
Eugene paused for a moment before spilling everything. He shared how much he enjoyed going out on the water as a fisherman, always trying to find the best catch possible.
Yet, he made it clear that he would never attempt to poach any wildlife. And that, as far as he knew, catfish weren’t included on any endangered or conservation list, so it was perfectly legal to capture them. That’s when Arlington confusedly raised his eyebrows.
Putting It All on the Table
With an indecipherable look on his face, Arlington asked, “What catfish?”
Eugene explained that he had made a huge catch that he was proud of on the previous day. He went over everything–how he caught it, its weight, size, and length, and anything else he remembered. But while Eugene was explaining, he failed to recall one tiny detail. It was this detail that would make or break it for him.
It’s Not the Catfish
The catfish didn’t seem even remotely to interest Arlington. He explained that the potential poaching situation he was looking into had nothing to do with any type of fish.
Instead, it was an alligator. Right then and there, Eugene should have made the connection. But, instead, he did not put it together that his catfish had played a part in the poaching. But, once Arlington found out, things could take a turn for the worse.
The Foot Strikes Again
Arlington explained further that an alligator was found in the lake that appeared to have had his foot chopped off. The alligator was safe now in their custody, but he wanted to make sure that the harm done to him wasn’t intentional.
Suddenly, it all clicked for Eugene. He completely forgot the strangest detail about the catfish, the fact he discovered when he pried the fish’s mouth open. He quickly explained to Arlington that the catfish was the reason for the missing alligator foot.
The Truth Set Him Free
Arlington listened closely to Eugene’s story. Then, with a nod that showed his satisfaction with the explanation, he thanked Eugene for his honesty. After that, he made his way to his car and drove off.
Eugene let out a sigh of relief, feeling all the worry and anxiety melt away. Now that he was absolutely sure he had done nothing wrong, he could look forward to enjoying his record-breaking catfish.