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Natchez boy finally gets trophy from state-record catfish

Dakota Hinson, 13, just received the replica of his state-record catch, a 95-pound blue catfish, from the Museum of Natural Science in Jackson. Hinson caught the fish on March 16, 2009, in the Mississippi River at St. Catherine Creek National Wildlife Refuge. (Lauren Wood \ The Natchez Democrat)

NATCHEZ — It took more than three years for Dakota Hinson to get his trophy, but now the 13-year-old boy who holds the Mississippi record for catching the largest catfish finally has proof of his accomplishment.

“(My friends) still don’t believe me,” Dakota said about the state-record 95-pound blue catfish he caught March 16, 2009.

But thanks to the Museum of Natural Science in Jackson, Hinson now has tangible evidence that he bagged the biggest catfish in state history.

Dakota was presented with a replica mount of his catch two weeks ago, and he said it is nice to finally have his trophy.

“I’m going to keep it here (at home) and mount it on the wall,” he said.

Dakota was just 10 years old when he fought the massive catfish while fishing with his second cousin Earl Stafford and family friend David Renfro at the St. Catherine Creek National Wildlife Refuge.

Dakota said he fought the fish for 20 minutes, but he was able to reel it in by himself. He did need assistance from his fishing partners to get it in the boat, however, and once the giant was on board, the anglers had very little room to move.

Dakota said the ride back to shore took 30 minutes, because the weight of the fish slowed down the boat.

“It was pretty hard, but it felt good,” Dakota said.

Stafford and Renfro were more impressed with Dakota’s catch that he was, he said.

The fish was originally weighed with a scale at the refuge, and it tipped that scale at 125 pounds. But the state certified the fish on its scale at 95 pounds.

During the three years Hinson waited on his trophy, he had to continue to convince friends and family that he caught the massive fish. But he still says catching the fish was much more exciting is finally getting his proof.

Dakota’s mother, Celia Hinson, said the fish only lasted about three days at the museum, where the family donated it, before it died.

The museum notified Dakota that the fish had died and also that he would be getting a replica.

“We kept calling every once in a while, and they finally brought it,” Celia said.

The fish died before Dakota could make it to Jackson to see it in its tank.

Dakota started fishing when he was 2 years old under the tutelage of his late father Richie Hinson, who died in 2007.

“Ever since he could stand up, he’s been fishing,” Celia said. “I wish his dad could have seen it, it would have been exciting for him.”

Dakota caught his first fish at the age of 2 with his father. That fish weighed approximately 10 pounds, he said.

Celia said she was shocked when she first saw the size of the fish, and Dakota shared the experience with his brother, Gregory, and late sister, Skyelah.

Dakota said he always preferred to fish for catfish, because they are sometimes easier to catch than other fish.

Dakota is the second member of his family to capture a state-record fish. Stafford caught the state-record alligator gar in 2003, and the group was fishing in Stafford’s boat when Dakota caught his record fish.

Dakota, who will be a seventh grader this year, said he has not been fishing much since he caught the record catfish.

“I haven’t been in three years,” he said. “I just haven’t gotten a chance to go.”

Dakota said the catfish would be hard to top the next time he does get to go fishing. He is also a hunter and killed his biggest buck, an eight-point, in 2010.