World Record Catfish, The Top 4 Trophy Blue Cats

The catfishing world exploded with chatter on June 18, 2011 with talk of a new world record blue catfish.

The new world record blue catfish was caught Saturday night June 18th 2011 at John H. Kerr-Buggs Island Lake near Clarksville Virginia.

I was sitting around resting and eating my Fathers Day breakfast, enjoying the day off when my email started buzzing every few minutes with breaking news of the new potential world record blue catfish.

The previous world record blue was caught in the Missouri River in July of 2010.

Buggs Island Lake Virginia World Record Blue Catfish

Virginia World Record Catfish 1The current Buggs Island 143 pound fish was certified as a record catfish and broke the existing world record by an impressive thirteen pounds and also certifies as the new Virginia state record blue catfish.

Weight: 143 pound
Length: 57 Inches
Girth: 47 Inches

Nick Anderson, a high school football coach from Greenville North Carolina was on a father and son fishing trip (yes it was Fathers Day weekend) fishing at Buggs Island. Anderson said that the fish was caught near the Goat Island area near Clarksville Virginia using an Ugly Stik fishing rod, a Shimano fishing reel and 30 lb test fishing line. It took an estimated forty five minutes for the anglers to wrestle this monster into their pontoon boat.

The bait the anglers were using was not been disclosed.

Earlier in 2011 a new Virginia record blue catfish that was caught at Buggs Island Lake that weighed in at 109 pounds.

Nick Anderson’s father, Rick caught a 95 pound blue catfish a few weeks prior to them catching the current record, also at Buggs-Island Lake.

Anderson’s monster blue catfish was taken to Mecklenburg Farm Supply in Chase City Virginia because it was the only place within the area that had scales large enough to perform the official weigh in.

The fish was certified at 143 pounds with a length of 57 inches and a girth of 47 inches.

A fish (of any species) does not become a world record until the record is certified by the International Game Fish Association (IGFA). The fish met all of the necessary qualifications and passed the certification process of the IGFA making it official as the new world.

The 143 pound record unfortunately died, presumably from the stress and handling as a result of the extended period of time it took for the anglers to find a certifed scale large enough to handle the massive cat.

Virginia Catfish Controversies – Invasive Species

Virginia has been the site of considerable controversy in the catfishing world over the past few years. The blue catfish have been classified as an invasive species in the tidal waters of the James Rivers and the Chesapeake Bay.

This area has become well known for producing amazing trophy class blue catfish. There’s been a recent push by state agencies to eradicate the blue catfish from these waters by opening them to commercial fishing.

Past World Record Catfish

Here’s a look at some of the past world record blues prior to the current record and the history behind them including the story of “splash” the big blue that really put the trophy blue cats on the map.

Missouri River, 130 Pounds, Greg Bernal

Missouri World Record Blue CatfishIn July 2010 Greg Bernal of Florissant Missouri a 130 pound cat which was at that time a IGFA (world) record and a Missouri state record breaking Tim Pruitt’s previous record by six pounds.

Weight: 130 pounds
Length: 57 Inches
Girth: 45 inches

Greg Bernal’s fish was officially certified as the Missouri state record blue, breaking the previous Missouri state record of 103 pounds.

Bernal was fishing with pieces of cut silver asian carp and fourty pound test fishing line while fishing from his boat on the Missouri River in the Columbia Bottom Conservation Area, west of the confluence of the Missouri and Mississippi rivers in Missouri. The big fish took the bait around 12:45 a.m..

Bernal brought the monster catfish to the side of the boat within fifteen minutes, claiming “it came right to the boat”.

Getting the fish into the boat however proved to be a different story taking an additional thirty minutes to actually get it into the boat and requiring two dip nets to do so.

The fish was finally landed in the boat around 1:30 a.m.

Because it was caught in the middle of the night the fish could not be weighed until the next morning and it unfortunately died.

Also Of Note:

Two weeks after Greg Bernal caught his big blue another Missouri angler caught yet another impressive blue catfish from the Mississippi River.

Rick Hastings of Cape Girardeau Missouri landed a monster 115 pound blue.

Hastings hooked the fish and stated that it dragged the boat for nearly a mile down river while they attempted to reel in the fish.

“It was going down the river and it was pulling the boat all around. We fought it for probably a good half hour to an hour and we were actually going down toward Scott City about a mile from where we’re fishing at.” said Hastings.

Mississippi River, Alton Illinois, 124 Lbs, Tim Pruitt

Tim Pruitt World Record CatfishOn May 21st, 2005 Tim Pruitt caught a 124 pound record breaking the previous 121.5 lb record caught in Texas.

Fishing on the Mississippi River near Alton, Illionois Tim Pruitt landed the massive 124-pound cat after a battle lasting nearly 40 minutes a 58 inch long, 44 inch girth blue surfaced. Pruitt claimed to grab the fish by the lower jaw and wrestle it into the boat when it surfaced.

“My adrenaline was really pumping, so it wasn’t that bad,” said Pruitt, who lives Fosterburg Illinois. “Later on, when I was lifting him out of the livewell and into another tank I really felt the weight.”

Weight: 124 Pounds
Length: 58 Inches
Girth: 44 Inches

Pruitt was a catch and release trophy catfish angler, who considered letting his world record swim free after weighing on a certified scale. Instead, he agreed to let Cabela’s display the fish at their Kansas City store.

Unfortunately, the fish never made it the Cabela’s tanks. It died in transit.

Lake Texoma Texas, 121.5 Pounds, Cody Mullenix

Cody Mullenix Record Blue CatfishIn January 2004 Cody Mullinex of Howe Texas caught a 121.5 pound blue at Lake Texoma, which was the first monster to garner serious media attention.

Weight: 121.5 Pounds

Length: 58 Inches

Cody Mullenix of Howe Texas caught the fish on January 16th, 2004 which become known as “Splash” while fishing at the Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge on Lake Texoma.

The blue catfish caught by Mullenix weighed in at 121.5 Lbs, which was not only a Texas state record but also a world record.

The fish was housed in a massive freshwater display at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens Texas until it died and drew in tourists from all over the United States to see the massive cat (and the feeding display).

“Splash” still remains as the state record blue catfish in Texas.

This Is Not a Record Catfish

Not a World Record CatfishAbout once a week I get this picture by email with some long winded story about this fish and it being a record catfish caught at Lake Texoma in Texas but you can [insert lake name here] because the story changes often.

This fish was not caught in the United States as it’s not a species of catfish that exists in the US. 

If you require further validation check truth or fiction or snopes.

Here’s Some Quick Charts and Facts

Summary of recent fish, locations, weight, length and girth.

World Record Catfish Table

Chart showing the increase in size of each record per year over the past ten years.

These are the “big four” trophy cats that have broken records in recent years. With the continued conservation efforts to practice catch and release of trophy class catfish and anglers becoming more skilled and locating and catching big blues, there’s speculation that another monster cat will come soon.

Where do you think the next IGFA cat will come from?

If you’d like to learn more on locating and catching catfish and learn to increase your success on the water check out the Catfish Edge products. The in depth tutorials, ebooks and videos will get you on the fast track to success catching catfish.

Make sure to check out our “Ultimate Guides” to make sure you’re getting the best gear available to help you catch more catfish. Check out the Ultimate Guide To Catfish Rods, The Ultimate Guide To Catfish Reels and Ultimate Guide To Catfishing Gear.

Article Name
World Record Catfish, The Top 4 Trophy Blue Cats
A look at the current and past world record catfish. The top four trophy blue catfish caught in the past ten years across the United States.
Summer Channel Catfish Techniques


  1. Matthew says

    Those all are very impressive but I’m still amazed with the world record flathead catfish caught on 12lb test

    • Calvin Mabry says

      There were and are a lot of question marks about how that Elk City Lake flathead was caught. It was rushed through the system and approved as a world record but few people who live around here are buying the “official” version.

  2. Bryan says

    I went on a trip with that guy Cody a few years ago on tawokoni in December. Best catfishing I’ve ever seen.

  3. Nathan Osborne says

    This site needs to be updated Buggs Island as Virginian’s call it or Kerr Lake if in NC now holds the top two all time record blues. On March 21st 2014 my long time fishing buddy Travis Combs caught a 135lb blue on my boat. We quickly weighed her at bobcats bait and tackle and released her to fight another day. Our fortune continued as we landed an 81lber the next day which was also cpr’d. Been fishing for big blues for 17 years now on Buggs and Santee Cooper the blues keep getting bigger and bigger on Buggs as has the fishing pressure. Sure would be nice if they were recognized as game fish in VA and protected a little better.

    • James says

      “We quickly weighed her at bobcats bait and tackle and released her to fight another day.”

      If you didn’t go through the process of making the catch official through the proper channels, it might as well have not happened. Would be easy for me to claim I caught a 200 lb’er and had it weighed at a bait shop then released. I could even photoshop an image of me with a big cat as “proof”. If it wasn’t certified, it didn’t happen as far as the record is concerned. As for the memories, you will always have them.

  4. brent says

    I think it is sad that those fish died. I am a catch and release guy!!! I think it would be nice to have my name in record book but I cant ever see myself risking a single catfish for that. I love catfish way to much for that!

  5. Cody hodge says

    I think the next record blue will be from the ohio river on the indiana side cuz im gonna catch it i just have to get a hook strong enuff not to straighten out gamkatsu hooks are sharp bt not tuff

    • Mike says

      The James River has some monster fish too. My brother-in-law has put a 97 lb. blue in his boat and it’s a safe bet there are many blue a lot bigger in there.

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