Denham Springs woman lands blue catfish that’s all-white

Katie Purvis Johns was fishing along the Bonnet Carré Spillway with her husband and daughter when she caught a 19-pound leucistic catfish.
Katie Purvis Johns was fishing along the Bonnet Carré Spillway with her husband and daughter when she caught a 19-pound leucistic catfish.

Bonnet Carré Spillway gives up 19-pound leucistic fish

Katie Purvis Johns of Denham Springs, her husband, Eric, and Sophia, their 5-year-old daughter, were looking for a new spot to fish along the Bonnet Carré Spillway this past Saturday, April 24. They settled on a place just below the spillway that looked deep with plenty of underwater cover for fish.

“We were fishing a control structure,” she said.

Fishing on the bottom, maybe 8 feet deep, with cut bait, time ticked by without a bite, and she began to question if fishing the new spot was the right move.

“We’re not catching anything,” Jones said. “Then, out of nowhere, without a single bite, the fish just took off with (my bait).”

Underwater obstacles

Johns was fishing in an area where a row of concrete pillars stretched across the water on her side of the spillway, like a row of gray teeth jutting above the surface of the brown water.

“I let her wear herself out for a little while,” Johns said, “but I really didn’t want to fight her too much around the concrete needles, because I really didn’t want her to break off.”

Johns successfully navigated the fish away from the hazards and muscled it to shore. She knew she had a blue catfish on her line, but something about it looked strange.

“I finally got it all the way up,” Johns said, “and then we realized it was white.”

She landed the ghostly looking fish, and after taking some pictures, they measured it. The fish weighed 19 pounds and was 35 inches long.

“And I’m five months pregnant,” she said, laughing. “So I was pretty excited to be reeling in anything that big, too.”

Curious catfish color

Johns and her husband didn’t know what to make of the coloring of the fish.

“We initially thought it was an albino,” Johns said, “but then we realized that it didn’t have pink eyes. They were blue.”

Curious about the strange fish, she called the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.

“We found out that it is an all-white, leucistic blue catfish,” Johns said, “which is a pretty rare catch.”

An LDWF official informed her that albino catfish are more common than all-white, leucistic catfish. They said that pie-bald catfish, which are partially white, are routinely caught in the Mississippi River, but a true, all-white, leucistic fish was a once-in-a-lifetime catch.

“We are pretty excited about it,” Johns said. “I’m having a replica made of her; I paid the down payment this morning.”

About Will Martin 104 Articles
Will Martin is an adventure writer based in New Orleans, LA. He pens fiction and nonfiction stories at, and is a staff writer at Louisiana Sportsman. He can be reached at