A Big Splash

The biggest blue catfish ever caught in Texas—121.5 pounds—was hauled flipping and flopping out of Lake Texoma on January 16, 2004, by Howe resident Cody Mullennix. Contrary to iron-clad tradition, Mullennix did not eat the critter, stuff it, or hang its head on a rural fence post. He donated it, very much alive, to the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center, in Athens. Named Splash, the fish became the star attraction of the center’s 26,000-gallon aquarium, showing off for visitors by eating chicken thighs and drumsticks and spitting out the bones. On the first anniversary of her arrival, Splash was feted with a party attended by more than seven hundred people. Walmart donated a huge cake, and children brought handmade cards that read “I love you” and “You are my idol.” Sadly, though, Splash’s days were numbered. In December 2005, at the age of 25, she passed away from complications of an old injury. Today her skeleton and a life-size fiberglass replica are displayed at the center. As a local reporter wrote, “Splash is survived by thousands of descendants in Lake Texoma.”

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