When Alex Foster of St. Albans heads to the river for a day of fishing, it’s serious business. Foster isn’t just an angler, he’s a trophy angler. He typically sets out with a plan to catch a record sized fish. He recently caught the new state record blue catfish for both length and weight. The same day he caught a longnose gar which tied the state record for length.
However, Foster is equipped for the task. He’s also a professional long distance caster.
“That’s my edge,” he said. “I had the state record for blue cat from August 24th of last year. I knew if somebody didn’t get it out of a boat I could definitely get it off the bank again. The type of equipment I use is clearly superior.”
The equipment is specifically engineered for distance casting competition. He’s one of the few competitors in the United States. His personal best cast is 600-feet (two football fields), but others are throwing lures well in excess of 800-feet. The equipment is not cheap and not easy to find.
“You have to get on a waiting list to buy some of this stuff,” he said. “There’s only one place in the United States you can buy it and it’s pretty expensive.”
The gear is tailor made for what a fisherman needs to get to the blue catfish of the Kanawha and Ohio Rivers from the bank.
“Usually blue cats never come in. They aren’t a fish that in most cases come to the bank, unless there’s an extremely deep hole close in,” he said.
Casting to the current is easily accomplished on Foster’s rigs.
He caught the record catfish on September 24th, but it was the first of five sizeable cats he caught that week–all of which would have eclipsed the old record.
“I wish I wouldn’t have caught that 44-and-a-half pounder first,” he laughed. “I had a 34, a 36, a 37, and a 39-pounder I ended up catching. Each one would have eclipsed the one from last year, but it wasn’t in the cards. In essence I would have had six state records in one week.”
It’s familiar ground for Foster who’s owned several West Virginia records over the year and for a while held the highest number of IGFA line class records of anybody in the world.
He’s not done. Likely his record blue catfish won’t stand long. The species was only reintroduced to West Virginia waters and they are growing fast. DNR biologists speculate the record will fall several times in the coming decade.