When Corky Lemon's usual fishing partner politely declined to fish the final Big Sioux Catfish League event, Corky asked Terry Matheny, Sioux City, to fill in.
When Matheny launched his boat at the Sioux City boat launch and headed up the Big Sioux with Lemon, of Elk Point, neither realized this was going to be the fishing trip of a lifetime.
A few hours later, after fishing two holes somewhere around the west entrance of Stone Park, it is rumored, Matheny had put a 71-pound blue catfish into the boat and Lemon had boated a possible South Dakota State Record 99.25-pounder. They also had a 35-pound blue and a 5-plus channel cat.
"That fish just about pulled me out of the boat," Lemon said. "I've never had a fish pull that hard in all my life."
That was the evening of July 21. The big fish was weighed on a certified scale and an application was made to the South Dakota Game Fish and Parks to certify the fish as a new state record.
The big fish was released at the Sioux City boat ramp.
If the record comes about, a longstanding mark will be eclipsed. It was Sept. 16, 1969, when Edward B. Elliot of Vermillion, S.D., caught a 97-pounder from the Missouri River.
Going into the final league event, Lemon and his partner Brad Rowe, Dakota City, were some 40 pounds behind league leader Darrell Carter of Elk Point.
"I told Corky I'd take him to a big-fish spot, but if he won the league, I'd want a share of the winnings," Matheny smiled.
The league, sponsored by the Westfied Bar and Grill, was cut a couple of weeks short because of low water conditions on the Big Sioux.