It started with a simple bet. Ahmed Majeed knew there were giant fish in Green Lake – there had to be. His co-workers didn’t agree.
“They said ‘forget it,’ ” Majeed said of his Microsoft co-workers. “But when I would go, I would see something jumping, and I knew.”
He was determined to prove them wrong. After four hours on the grassy edge of Seattle’s Green Lake recently, Majeed had two big catches in hand. The first was a good-sized carp. The second was likely the largest channel catfish ever caught in Washington.
With his hair rig and inliner feeder set up, an outfit designed to catch only big fish, Majeed felt a huge pull on his line around 12:30 p.m. At first, he thought he had a giant carp. But when he saw the head, he knew he had a monster of a catfish on his line.
“There were about 50-60 people around me taking photos and video,” Majeed said. “I couldn’t focus on anything but the fish. I was just thinking, ‘Oh my god! Oh my god! How many pounds is this?”
Majeed has fished since he was a young boy in Iraq. He says his parents didn’t support or understand his love for fishing.
“Why waste the time, if you can just buy it at the store?” they’d say.
Majeed, who loves the water and the thrill of reeling in a big catch, wouldn’t be swayed. But even for an experienced angler like Majeed, this catch was a nearly once-in-a-lifetime feat.
“I hooked a grand carp back in 1997 in Iraq that was almost the same size,” he said. “But this one was special.”
Majeed took his catches home and weighed the 4.5-foot catfish on his scale. The reading? Forty-five pounds.
The official Washington record for Chinook catfish is a 36.20-pounder caught at a pond southeast of Yakima in 1999, said Bruce Bolding, the warm water fish program manager for the Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Majeed’s catch, however, won’t count in the record books because it wasn’t officially weighed before being gutted.
“I have no doubt it probably was a state record,” Bolding said.
But without an official reading at either a post office or butcher’s shop with a signature from a witness, the fish’s glory must live in photo form.
“Unfortunately, I called and they said I didn’t scale it correctly,” Majeed said.
But at least he’s got a lot of “delicious” fish to fillet.
While the size of the fish is surprising, catfish, like the one Majeed caught, aren’t uncommon at Green Lake. Along with channel catfish, the lake is stocked with rainbow trout, rock bass, bass carp, brown trout and brown bullhead. The lake is regularly stocked with trout, but channel catfish were added in 2005, 2011 and 2014.
“They’re pretty good value,” Bolding said of the catfish. “Every place we’ve stocked them, people come. It’s a sort of ‘you build it, they will come’ situation for anglers.”
As for finding big catches like these in places close to home, Bolding said it’s no surprise. “You don’t have to go far to do well.”
Majeed knew it all along. And now, so do his friends.
“They’re all shocked. No one can argue with me now.”
Subscribe to The Spokesman-Review's sports newsletter
Get the day's top sports headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.