Most fishermen are lucky to break one state record in their lifetime. Colt Williamson did it twice in one month. But here’s the catch — the first one didn’t count.
Colt’s passion for fishing grew through his father, Rexx, and a desire to take a break from the year-round commitment to tennis.
Many know him as a state champion tennis player (2015), but few may know that he often goes fishing with his father, even taking trips to Maine every summer to do just that. When training hits its annual climax, the two would spend a week in the fisher’s paradise, without racquets, tennis balls, or strategy.
Colt described the yearly trips as a “nice break [that allowed him to] clear [his] mind from having to focus on tennis.” The mental vacation paid off, shown in his success on the court for USTA Middle States, Milford High School, and, most recently, Salisbury University.
On August 3rd, Colt and his father wrestled in a 52-pound blue catfish from the Nanticoke River. The catch would shatter the previous record for Delaware by 15.68 pounds — or so they thought. The pair was unable to reach a Division of Fish and Wildlife employee in order to get the catch examined. The monster fish would not go into the record books.
But Colt didn’t feel heartbroken by the whole event.
“I knew that we would be able to eventually catch a bigger one,” Colt said of the record that never was. The experience actually gave him the confidence to go out and try again. And so he did.
On August 31st, the two once again set out towards the Nanticoke River, determined to officially break the state record.
After five hours of fishing, Rexx was just getting ready to leave when Colt felt a tug on his rod. They both knew it was another record. With a net suited for a five-pound fish and a line suited for a 20-pounder, however, the uphill battle had only just begun.
“That fish was bigger and stronger than what we could deal with,” Colt recalls.
If he were to pull up right away, the catfish would have destroyed the rod — winning the match with ease. Luckily, Colt knew all about taking down bigger, stronger opponents from his years on the court.
You have to outsmart them.
And just like how an experienced tennis player runs their opponent from one side of the court to the other in order to tire them out, Colt essentially did the same.
Controlling the boat with his foot and the rod with hands, he followed the fish around, careful not to put too much pressure on the line. The long rally ended when the catfish got caught under a stump in the shallower waters.
It was time for Colt to showcase another skill learned, practiced, and perfected on the tennis court: patience. Occasionally tugging on the line to make sure the catch was still hooked, Colt and his father waited. And waited. And waited. Skepticism crept in as the match tired on.
But the blue catfish escaped the stump and the rally recommenced. After about twenty minutes of complete concentration, chasing around an almost 50-pound fish, Colt was exhausted. Eventually, the monster of a catch also showed its fatigue — as most of Colt’s opponents do — and approached the surface.
Then, they see it.
“That’s when our senses just turned up 200%” Colt describing the moment. The two anglers realized that they had only one shot to do this right. Matchpoint hung in the balance.
Rexx put his undersized net over the head, Colt tied a rope around the tail, and the two were able to haul the blue catfish into the boat.
Right away, Colt laid down on the front deck with a mixture of exhaustion and relief. After a long and tiring match, the pair was able to win the 43-inch, 47.75-pound trophy — and this time, they made sure that it got in the record books.
With the memory fresh in his mind, Colt isn’t convinced that the record will last. Another fisherman will come along and top it, he claims. Or maybe, Colt will do it yet again.