POTTSBORO — “Give him a stick and a string and put a jig on it,” said Nailen Eitelman of his 11-year-old son Keatyn Eitelman, who seems to be a natural at the fishing hole.
“They just like everything I throw at them,” said Keatyn who recently become the state’s youngest elite angler.
The Pottsboro fisherman completed the achievement on Aug. 2, less than two weeks before turning 11. He caught his last fish for the award on July 24, a 21.25-inch, 5.5-pound largemouth bass from Lake Texoma.
An elite angler is a one-time achievement award for an angler who catches trophy-class fish of five different species. To be eligible, an angler must earn five freshwater or five saltwater Big Fish Awards. A Big Fish Award is given for a fish meeting or exceeding a minimum length for each species.
Keatyn began his quest on Nov. 28, 2012, when he caught a blue catfish measuring 39.25 inches from Lake Texoma. “I decided to do it because I like fishing a lot,” Keatyn said. “I heard about the record and decided to go for it.” His dad, who is a professional fishing guide, said he presented it as a challenge.
From Lake Texoma, Keatyn caught a 16.5-inch white bass on Dec. 2, 2012, a 18.5-inch smallmouth bass on Dec. 11, 2012 and his largemouth bass. He also caught a 18.25-inch white crappie from Lake Fork on March 10.
Keatyn said fishing is “70 percent luck, 20 percent skill and 10 percent being on the water,” an adage he seems to have learned from his dad. However, he declined to reveal his favorite spot for this article.
The young angler said he likes to spend his time outdoors. “There’s a lot more stuff to do then the inside,” but when asked if he didn’t want to stay inside and play video games it drew a shy smile on his face and laughter from his dad.
“You got him on that one,” Nailen Eitelman said.
Keatyn said he has no plans to sit back and coast with this latest distinction and plans to set more records — he already holds an additional state record and several lake records — and “beat all the grown-ups.”
Nailen just seems grateful to share his passion with his son. The time they spend together, he said, is “unexplainable. You can’t put a price on it.”