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John Perkins

John Perkins wrestled with a 38-pound flathead catfish for about 20 minutes last Friday before catching and releasing it near the Interstate 280 bridge in Davenport.

Tired of hearing his father brag about the 11-pound flathead catfish he recently caught, John Perkins arrived at his late-night fishing spot last Friday ready for battle.

Equipped with essential gear for luring something hearty in the dark, including headlamps, 50-pound test line and live shad for bait, the 41-year-old Perkins soon found his match under the Interstate 280 bridge in Davenport.

About midnight, after wrestling with it for 20 minutes, he reeled in a sizable flathead catfish of his own — one more than triple the size of his father’s haul weighing in at 38 pounds.

“I knew it was something big, but I didn’t know how big,” said Perkins, whose buddy grabbed a net to help hoist the fish onto land. “I felt it pulling me toward the water.”

And his father was there to witness the action.

“My dad called me the king, and I feel like the king right now,” recalled Perkins, who fished a few times as a child, but just picked it back up last year. “None of us had seen a fish that size, so it was shocking to everybody.”

Once his adrenaline settled and the high-five exchanges slowed, Perkins made sure someone in his group snapped a photo to accompany his post on Facebook. He then released the Mississippi River monster back into the water.

“I’m a big fan of CPR — capture, picture and release,” he said. “Let them live to fight another day.”

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Jack Cullen covers health and the outdoors for the Quad-City Times.