David Hayes was fishing with his granddaughter in a pond behind his house when she asked him to hold her Barbie fishing rod while she went to the bathroom.
The rest is North Carolina sports history.
Hayes took the fishing rod and seconds later the toy hooked a state-record channel catfish, at 21 pounds, 1 ounce.
"I was pretty sure I was going to lose it," he said told The Winston-Salem Journal. "I was hoping I would hang on to it long enough for Alyssa to see it. When she did, she squealed so much it took off on its last run."
The catfish gave up after about a half hour, allowing Hayes to scoop the fish into a net, the newspaper reported.
Alyssa's father had bought the pink Barbie fishing rod for Christmas. On this early August day, she had caught a few fish before she went to the bathroom, but nothing like the catfish, Hayes said.
"[She said] Papa, I gotta go potty. Hold my fishing rod,'" Hayes told The Winston-Salem Journal. "She wasn't in the house a few seconds when the catfish took off with the bait."
When she came back, the pond water looked like it was boiling and she told her grandfather, "Papa, you're going to break my fishing rod," The Winston-Salem Journal reported.
In response he told her, "Wait until you see what I've got on the other end of this rod."
Hayes put the fish on ice and brought it to a nearby wildlife biologist, who suggested he should get it officially weighed. He and Alyssa, still holding the Barbie rod, went to a local store and had it weighed on a digital scale, according to the newspaper.
"Biggest catfish I've ever seen," said Ernie Trexler, the assistant store manager.
The Winston-Salem Journal reported that the catch in eastern Wilkes County has been certified as a record by the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission.
Hayes and his granddaughter have fished in the pond since she was big enough to hold a pole.