Catfish Swallows a Basketball and it Gets Stuck in its Mouth – The True Story

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Image: Bill Driver

Pictures involving a catfish and a basketball started floating around the internet way back in 2004, showing the fish after it swallowed a basketball. Knowing about catfish, this doesn’t sound very far fetched. Catfish pretty much try to eat anything that gets in their way, just look at noodling.

Snopes investigated matters, coming up with their own conclusion from a story in the Wichita Eagle Newspaper. The recounting of the story is as follows:

This was a pretty interesting story from The Sunday Wichita Eagle Newspaper a couple of weeks ago. Was in a housing development around 119th st. South and Maple. Anyhow a resident in the area saw a ball bouncing around kind of strange like in the developments pond and when he went to investigate, it was a flathead catfish who had obviously tried to swallow a child’s basketball which became stuck in its mouth. The fish was totally exhausted from trying to dive but unable to because the ball would always bring him back up to the surface. The resident tried numerous times to get the ball out but was unsuccessful. He finally had his wife cut the ball in order to deflate the ball and release the catfish.

Image: Bill Driver

Bill Driver discovered noticed something in the lake as he was standing on the deck of his home. He went to investigate matters and discovered it was a basketball bobbing up and down in the water. However, it was what had its mouth wrapped around the basketball that was so unexpected.

Image: Bill Driver

A massive catfish had lodged the ball in its mouth while attempting to eat it. Driver has fished his entire life, but now he’s wondering if sporting goods were the secret he’d been looking for all along. The Wichita Eagle published what happened during that unexpected discovery on May 30, 2004:

From Panama to the Great Lakes, Bill Driver’s done pretty well fishing over the past 50 years. 

Now he’s wondering if he’d have done even better with a different kind of bait. “I never considered using a kid’s basketball,” Driver said. “Maybe I should have.” 

Friday afternoon, Driver was standing on the deck of his house near 119th Street West and Central when he saw an eight-inch ball floating in Sandalwood Lake. 

Noticing the ball wasn’t floating normally, Driver wandered to his dock for a closer look. A catfish had its mouth stuck around the ball. 

Driver hollered for his wife, Pam, to get a camera while he unrigged the sail from his nine-foot boat, wading into the lake and corralling the fish toward shore with the sail as a seine. 

Several times, the flathead tried to dive, only to have the ball buoy it back to the surface. 

The fish appeared to be exhausted and offered little resistance once in the shallows. 

Things may have gone easier had the fish the strength to struggle. 

“I just couldn’t pull that ball out of its mouth,” Driver said. “I was lifting up out of the water as best I could by the ball. I finally sent my wife to the house to get a knife.” 

Driver carefully deflated the ball. Estimated at 50 pounds, the fish swam toward the deepest part of the lake. 

Driver has no plans of targeting the fish in the near future. 

Instead, he’ll probably continue to fish for the bass and panfish that swim within the one-acre lake.

“I guess I might try fishing with a golf ball,” Driver said. “Smaller fish, smaller bait.”

Image: Bill Driver

O360 Take:

It’s not hard to believe this story is 100% true. With a recounting of the events being published in the Wichita Eagle with a first-hand sighting by Bill Driver with pictures to back it up, it’s certainly real. I can’t be certain Driver ever managed to catch any other fish with the use of a basketball, but his pictures show it’s possible.

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