World record catfish is always a hot topic among catfish anglers. It’s a hot topic among all three primary catfish species of catfish in the United States but especially true for big monster blue catfish.
Let’s take a look at the world record catfish caught in recent years, the biggest catfish ever caught of all time!
Most Recent World Record Catfish
The catfishing world exploded with chatter on June 18, 2011, with talk of a new world record blue catfish, much larger than the previous largest catfish ever caught.
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
The 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 certified as the new Virginia state record blue catfish.
Weight: 143 pounds
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 Father’s 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 catfish bait the anglers were using was not been disclosed.
Previous Catches at Buggs
Earlier in 2011, a new Virginia record blue catfish that was caught at Buggs Island Lake 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 certified 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
In July 2010 Greg Bernal of Florissant Missouri a 130-pound cat which was at that time an IGFA (world) record and a Missouri state record, this broke 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 a forty-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.
A Quick Catch
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 downriver 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
Fishing on the Mississippi River near Alton, Illinois 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 in Fosterburg Illinois. “Later on, when I was lifting him out of the live well 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 to the Cabela’s tanks. It died in transit.
Lake Texoma Texas, 121.5 Pounds, Cody Mullenix
Weight: 121.5 Pounds
Length: 58 Inches
Cody Mullenix of Howe Texas caught the fish on January 16th, 2004 which became 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 (at an old age) 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
About once a week I get this picture by email with some long-winded story about this fish and it is 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.
Here are Some Quick Charts and Facts
Summary of recent fish, locations, weight, length, and girth.
Chart showing the increase in the 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?
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