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Really big surprise of a really big flathead from LaSalle Lake: Fish of the Week

John Plillips with his 47.5-inch flathead catfish caught and released Sunday at LaSalle Lake.
Provided

John Phillips started with his “usual drum and a few catfish” on crankbaits Sunday at LaSalle Lake, but he finished catching and releasing a 47.5-inch flathead catfish.

“I made a cast up to the riprap and I felt a hit I set the hook and a 45-minute battle was on!” emailed Phillips, lead engineer at the Field Museum. “I didn’t see the giant for the first 30 minutes of the fight. She stayed deep. I kept chasing the fish with my trolling motor.

“When finally the great fish came to the surface, for a brief moment, and back to the bottom she went. This happened again for the second time, but on her third appearance to the surface my buddy Todd Minor was able to net half of the fish in my small bass-size net and we lifted the back half up and landed it! That is a fish of a lifetime!”

Full length photo of John Phillips 47.5-inch flathead catfish he caught and released Sunday at LaSalle Lake.<br>Provided
Full length photo of John Phillips 47.5-inch flathead catfish he caught and released Sunday at LaSalle Lake.
Provided

FOTW, the celebration of big fish and their stories around Chicago outdoors, runs Wednesdays on the Sun-Times’ outdoors page. Submit nominations on Facebook (Dale Bowman), on Twitter (@BowmanOutside) or email (straycasts@sbcglobal.net).