WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – Robert Strickland was the winner of the Winston-Salem Pier Catfish Tournament after catching a 38-pound, 8-ounce catfish at Salem Lake.

“We saw the rod tip move and all of a sudden the rod started going down, and he was on it,” Strickland says about catching the big fish.

The big catch happened at around eight in the evening after long day of fishing that started at six in the morning. To Strickland it was worth every second.

This is his the second record he has held at Salem Lake.

After catching the catfish, he let it go back into the lake.

“I normally let them go,” he said. “I usually get a picture if they’re big enough and I’ll turn ‘em loose.”

Strickland said that if he ever sees the fish again, he hopes it will be “about 75 pounds.”

When asked what his favorite fishing spots are, he said he is “kinda partial to this place [Salem Lake].”

“I’ve fished some at High Rock, it’s okay. I go to some of these little ponds around, you know. I’ve been to Ocala, but I always seem to come back here,” Strickland said.

He’s been visiting Salem Lake since the mid-nineties.

Bobby Hege, Lakes Program Supervisor for the City of Winston-Salem, says Strickland is one of his favorite regulars.

“He’s always one of the Lake favorites out here and he’s caught a lot of big fish since then,” Hege said.

Among those, several over 40 pounds, and in even more between 30 and 40 pounds.

Strickland’s hope is that younger men and women get involved in fishing and says that Salem Lake is a good place to start learning.

“I think the more young people get involved, they’re less likely to be on the streets,” he said.

This weekend, the city will be holding the Boat Catfish Tournament from 6 p.m. to 12:30 a.m.

Cost to participate is $60 per boat. Participants are encouraged to arrive by 5:30 p.m. and may participate with or without a partner.

The tournament pays three places and a Big Fish award.

For more information call 336-650-7677.

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