Owsley catches largest verified flathead from Indian Lake


Chad Owsley, the self-described captain of “Fish and Fun,” has a new moniker these days.

He now is known as the “Flathead King of Indian Lake” after he caught the biggest flathead catfish to be documented officially coming out of Indian Lake during any tournament. His monster weighed in at 42.87 pounds.

That catch came last weekend during the Indian Lake Flathead Tournaments Spring/Summer Smack Down sponsored by Gene’s Marine Bait and Tackle and run by Tosh King Collins.

Owsley of Lima is well known at Indian Lake and has been helping people fish for the past three years. Flathead fishing is relatively new for him.

“I’ve only targeted them about three or four times,” he said.

His huge fish was caught on a silver shiner with a secret sauce he calls, “Yum yum come get you some.”

This was only the second flathead tourney he entered.

“I’ve actually never targeted flathead, but I’m a fisherman and usually the fish come to me. Some people say I can catch a fish out of a mud pit,” Owsley said.

Flathead anglers fishing Indian Lake claim a 50-pounder will be caught in the lake. Some think it may be caught this year while others figure it might be caught in the next year or two. As 50-pound flathead caught several years ago in the Maumee River was verified. Anglers have been fishing the Maumee in the Defiance area and several miles east and west of the city for more than 20 years.

“I believe there’s a 50-pounder floating around Indian Lake and I’m going to say definitely my goal now is to try to beat my personal best.” Owsley said.

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He seems to be a natural when it comes to fishing and has fished for numerous kinds of species with his favorite being striped bass in the South.

“I’ve been fishing most of my life. I pretty much started creek fishing wading and catching our own bait. From there I pretty much started fishing out a little 12-foot v-bottom boat hitting the reservoirs with lots of success,” Owsley said.

“The more we fished, the better we got. In my early 30s, I took off to Lake Cumberland (Kentucky) for about seven years and pretty much mastered that lake. I fished Indian Lake most of my childhood growing up. When I moved back, my buddy Catfish and I started fishing it for saugeye and had super success. From there I got my own boat and started taking people out fishing and we called it Owsley’s Fish and Fun,” he added.

Since flathead fishing has become popular on Indian Lake, there now is a Facebook page called Indian Lake Flathead Tournaments. It has 681 members.

The next tourney — the 27th annual catfish tournament — is scheduled for Aug. 4-7 from noon-noon. Entry fee is $20 with sign-up beginning July 14. There is a 100% payout. It is being hosted by Gene’s Marine Bait and Tackle. People may sign up there or at Mike’s Bait & Tackle and Lakeside Pro Bass. All placing winners are subject to a polygraph. For additional information, contact Collins at 937-404-8845.

Collins own tournaments have been going on for two years and have an average of 60 people participating in the combination boat and bank ones. He noted, “We have an average of 90 people for our bank only tournaments.”

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There are a pair one-day bank tournaments — one in May and one in October. A pair of two-day boat and bank tournaments are held — one in June and one in September. Entry fee is $20 with a 100% payout. Collins said sponsors are sought for the polygraphs winners could be subject to taking.

Bluegills, lake shiners and perch are the primary baits for the tourneys. Some anglers use goldfish and they are available at local bait shops.

To complement the channel catfish population in Indian Lake, the naturally occurring flathead catfish population has continued to grow during the past decade with numerous fish in the 20-30 pound range caught by anglers every year, according to the Ohio Division of Wildlife.

Flatheads put on 2-5 pounds a year between 3 and 8 years old. Monster cats grow upward of 10 pounds a year. In some southern rivers and reservoirs, cats have grown as much as 30 pounds in 10 years. Flathead catfish reach sexual maturity between the ages of 4 and 6 and have an average lifespan of 20 years.

The Ohio state record flathead catfish, which weighed 76 pounds, 8 ounces and measured 58.625 inches long, was caught by Richard Affolter on July 28, 1979, at Clendening Lake.

* * *

Following a visit from Gov. Mike DeWine, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) has released information about how residents, business owners and visitors can find up to date information on the ongoing effort to combat the unprecedented aquatic vegetation growth that has impacted boating on Indian Lake.

Interested Ohioans also will be able to see weekly plans, photos and videos, and operational reports of vegetation removal posted on the Indian Lake Aquatic Vegetation Management tab of ODNR’s website at ohiodnr.gov and on the Indian Lake State Park Facebook page.

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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>