10 Big Blue Catfish You Should Know
May 05, 2016
Blue catfish anglerÂ ZakkÂ Royce has done something that most anglers only dream about '“ pull in a record-settingÂ blue catfish. Not only did Royce break North Carolina's blue catfish record in December of 2015Â with a 91-pound fish, heÂ broke it again less thanÂ 24 hours later with one weighing in at 105Â pounds.
Two months after that, in FebruaryÂ 2016, Royce pulled in a certified 100-pound blue cat, making him the record-holder for the three biggest fish ever caught in North Carolina.
Behind every big blue catfish story are hidden detailsÂ that other anglers want to know, like what bait was used, what techniques and any tips that could help them land the same kind of catch.
The truth is, some anglers just end up at the right place at the right time; someÂ have spent years perfecting theirÂ techniquesÂ and othersÂ haveÂ relentless dedicationÂ toÂ time on the water.
Anglers who can say their fish haveÂ tipped the scales overÂ 100-poundsÂ recognize theirÂ crowning achievement.Â The rest of us just want to know,Â 'how did you catch that?'"
1.Â It is not uncommon forÂ Zakk Royce to spend 72Â hours straight on the water, so when he targetedÂ Lake Gaston in North CarolinaÂ in December 2015 he was ready for anything.
Using his preferred techniques of driftingÂ and trolling, Royce used cut bait shad to fish on the bottom. After several days of 40'“60 pound blue catfish, Royce remembersÂ cooler temperatures blowing in and aÂ change in his luck.
On December 20th,Â RoyceÂ pulled in a 91-pound blue catfish crushing the 2006 North Carolina record of 89Â pounds. After the fish was certified, Royce released it andÂ kept fishing inÂ the same spot,Â off of the same side of the boat.Â That's whenÂ his second huge blue tookÂ the bait.
"At one point I actually thought the fish was going to spool me as it was stripping so much line off my reel.Â Finally,Â afterÂ a half hour I had the fish beside the boat, butÂ it would not fit in the net," said Royce.
The 105-pound catfish with a 41-inch girth and 55 Â¾ inchesÂ long,Â broke the record Royce set the dayÂ before.
Two months later,Â also on Lake Gaston, Royce landed a 100-pound blue cat,Â making him the record holder of the topÂ three blue catfishÂ in North Carolina.
Royce, who runs Blues Brothers Guide Service and practices catch and release of larger fish, has targeted trophy blue catfish on Lake Gaston for 15 years. HeÂ often takes clients to the same stretch of waterway and even the exact location where he caught is record fish.
2. Richard Nicholas Anderson caught thisÂ world recordÂ 143-pound blue catfish on Kerr Reservoir onÂ BuggsIsland LakeÂ in Virginia on June 18, 2011. The catfish currently holds theÂ International Game Fish AssociationÂ (IGFA)Â recordÂ for blues for all line classes. AndersonÂ used a drifting method and caught the behemoth blue on chickenÂ and 50-pound test lineÂ in aÂ fightÂ thatÂ lasted for 45 minutes.
KerrÂ is the largest reservoir in Virginia and one of the largest in the entire Southeastern United States. It is located between North Carolina and Virginia and fed by the Roanoke River and Dan River. With an average depth of 30 feet and reaching 100 feet at the John H. Kerr Dam, the lake is popular for recreational fishing, and the occasional trophy blue catfish.
3.Â LakeÂ Texomain Texas has produced a number of record catfish over the years, but this 121-pound, 8-ounce trophy blue caught by CodyÂ Mullenixon January 16, 2004, landed him in theÂ IGFAÂ worldÂ record books.Â MullenixÂ wasÂ bait fishingÂ with shad on 20-pound test line. The record blue catfish was caughtÂ with rod and reel after a 20-minute fightÂ andÂ wasÂ relocated to a freshwater aquarium in Athens, Texas.
Located on the Red River between Oklahoma and Texas, LakeÂ TexomaÂ reachesÂ depthsÂ ofÂ 100 feet.Â TheÂ Texas Parks and Wildlife DepartmentÂ ranks fishing prospects for blue catfish as "excellent" in this lake.Â Most catfish in LakeÂ TexomaÂ rangeÂ between five and 70-pounds, but as evidenced by this worldÂ record catch, there are someÂ that growÂ even bigger.
4.Â This 116-pound, 12-ounce monster blue catfish caught in the Mississippi River in Arkansas by Charles Ashley Jr.,broke both state and world records on August 03, 2001. Ashley rigged up spam on the end of his 16-pound test line and used a casting method along the river.
The result was a 45-minute struggle with a trophy blue catfish that landed Ashley in the record books for both the IGFA and the state of Arkansas.
The Arkansas Game and Fish CommissionÂ confirms that the state's major rivers '“ the Mississippi River (near Helena-West Helena), Arkansas River and White River '“ are the best locations for angers who are chasing big blue catfish. But, those are not theÂ onlyÂ places trophy blues are hiding in the state.
"Our clear water reservoirs, like Lake Maumelle, are often overlooked, but they have quite a few blue catfish in there," said Randy Zellers, Assistant Chief of Communications, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission.
5.Â William McKinley landed this 111-pound world record blue catfish from Wheeler Reservoir in Alabama on July 5, 1996. According to the IGFA, McKinley was casting with 30-pound test line and using skipjack for bait when his record blue took hold. The fish wrested for 20-25 minutes before it was caught.
This catch held the world record for overall blues certified by the IGFA and the Alabama state record for several years.Â McKinley's world record was broken in 2011 (though he still hold it for line-class) and his state record broken in 2012.
Wheeler reservoir is a popular tributary of the Tennessee River for trophy blue catfish. Located in north central Alabama, Wheeler is the state's second largest reservoir and attracts anglers from throughout the country.
With more than 1,000 miles of shoreline, Wheeler gives anglers ample opportunity to fish for the trophy blue cats.
6.Â Another impressive catch from Wheeler Reservoir is this 105-pound blue catfish caught by JohnÂ Nordykein January of 2015. The fish wasÂ caught whileÂ Nordyke,of Missouri,Â wasÂ prepping for the Winter Blues on Wheeler tournament on the Alabama Catfish Trail.Â NordykeÂ and Captain Jason BridgesÂ were anchored, fishing with skipjackÂ inÂ theÂ rain and windy conditions.
NordykeÂ caught the trophy blue within the first hour of fishing, landing his personal best.Â Unfortunately, his trophy catch happened during practice rounds and did not count towards his tournament total. He wasÂ bottom fishingÂ in the lower section of Wheeler Lake when the fish hit.
Some of the blue catfish that come out ofÂ Wheeler ReservoirÂ tip the scales over 100-pounds, which is why anglers target this area.
7. San Vicente Reservoir inÂ California isÂ hasÂ quite a reputationwhen it comes to trophy blue catfish, due in partÂ to catches like this 101-pound fish caught by RogerÂ RohrbouckÂ of Nebraska.Â Rohrbouck, who was bait fishing withÂ medium shinersÂ trying to catch bass, caught the attention of a record-breaking blue catfish instead.
His catchÂ onÂ 12-poundÂ test lineÂ broke the IGFA line-classÂ world record onÂ March 12, 2000. It tookÂ RohrbouckÂ a half hour to wrestle the fish.
RohrbouckÂ alsoÂ held the California state blue catfish record for several years until it was broken by SteveÂ Oudomsouk'sÂ 113.4-pound catch on July 24, 2008.Â Oudomsouk'sÂ giant blue catfish was also caught in San Vicente Reservoir.
The California Department of Fish and WildlifeÂ saysÂ thatÂ San Vicente produces large blue catfish due to its abundance of habitat and forage.
"The lake has a lot of huge boulders and caves that they like to hang out in duringÂ the day (and spawn in) and will forage on an abundant sunfish, crayfish and seasonal stocked trout population," said QuinnÂ Granfors, Environmental Specialist, California Department for Fish & Wildlife.
GranforsÂ has also heard of large blue cats coming out of the LowerÂ OtayÂ and Lake Jennings.
8.Â Alabama is no stranger to trophy blue catfish, but this 120-pound, 4-ounce catch out of Holt Reservoir is notable. John Paul Nichols was targeting trophy blues onÂ March 09, 2012. He focusedÂ on a stretch ofÂ theÂ Black Warrior River in Holt Reservoir that he fished frequently, just upstream of Tuscaloosa.
Fishing with chicken gizzardÂ in 60 feet of water, Nichols landed this staggeringly enormous blue catfish, which surprised even officials at the Alabama Department of Conservation and NaturalÂ Resources.
"I was as shocked as anyone that this large-of-a catfish came out of this stretch of river.Â It is aÂ deep, steep-sided stretch of river with steep rocky banksÂ and it's rare to see this specimen to get this large," said JayÂ Haffner, District Fisheries Biologist, Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.
Nichols' catch is currently the state blue catfish record for Alabama.
9.Â Greg Bernalmade headlines in Missouri when he caught this 130-pound blue catfish on the Missouri River in 2010,Â setting the state record. Bernal used rod and reel to fish from his boat using 40-pound test line.Â Using silver carp for bait, Bernal planned a short outing to beat an approaching storm system.Â He started fishing atÂ 9:00 p.m.Â and planned to finish by 1:00 a.m.
The behemoth blue hit just minutes before Bernal called it a night. He thought the lineÂ was caught on theÂ bottom, but soon realized he was in for a fight. It took BernalÂ 15-minutes to pull the fish to the boat and another half hour to officially land it.
With a length of 57-inches and a girth of 45-inches, even the authorities at the Missouri Department of ConservationÂ were in shock at the sheer size of this fish.
Fisheries biologists estimated Bernal's catfishÂ at the time of catchÂ to be close to 30-years old.
10. A 14-year old boy from Soddy-Daisy, Tennessee holds one of the most remarkable line-class world records for his 109-pound, 12-ounce blue catfish. The IGFA certified Zachary Lovelady's record catch on 8-pound test line on March 31, 2005.
Lovelady used cut bait and fought the catfish for three hours on Chickamauga Lake before finally landing it. He told the local newspaper that he had to walk down the bank six times during his fight before his friends jumped into the water and grabbed the 137.6-inch long fish.
While Lovelady still holds the world record for his line-class, he was two pounds shy of the Tennessee state record.Â Robert LewisÂ still holdsÂ the blue catfishÂ record for Tennessee for his 112-poundÂ catchÂ on the Cumberland River on June 7, 1998.