(Story updated) South Dakota’s oldest fishing record is off the books, and not because a bigger fish was caught.
South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks said the 55-pound channel cat caught by Roy Groves in 1949 was not a channel cat after all, and therefore it has been voided as the record. As a result, the category has been re-opened and now the record is expected to be broken several times in the coming weeks and months.
GFP fisheries program administrator Geno Adams explained the reasoning in a statement on Facebook.
"Ever since I started working for GFP, anglers have believed it was not a channel catfish, many of my colleagues have seen that picture and have quickly said that Mr. Groves’ fish is a blue catfish. I sent the picture to two South Dakota State University fisheries professors and fish identification experts, and both agreed. We feel that, while this is a great fish and a great story, it is time to open the channel catfish category and start fresh."
The decision drew strong reactions on social media and from the Groves family. Roy Groves, a well-known big-catfish angler who once held the state blue catfish record (94 1/2 pounds), would’ve known the difference between a channel and a blue, family members said in this Argus Leader article. And, though it was 70 years ago, they note it was a certified state record.
Adams said the agency did not take the decision lightly.
It has opened another door for record-seekers, however. GFP also announced "Catrush 2019" — with the hashtag #CatRush2019 — a social media push to bring more angler attention to catfish, “which are abundant and underutilized in South Dakota,” the state said.
GFP said Tuesday on Facebook that the first new record had been caught — an 8-3 channel cat caught by Chuck Ewald at Whitlock Bay.
Before the end of the summer, the record has grown to 30 pounds, 1 ounces, the new record channel cat caught by Drew Mathews on July 14, 2019,
“Our hope is that people target channel catfish and we have the state record broken multiple times in the next few weeks,” Adams said. “I will go through the state record applications by the date and time the applications were submitted. We will be keeping the public informed through our Facebook page and our state record fish webpage. We think it will be a fun way to create interest in catfishing.”
Anglers who suspect they have a state record fish are required to follow department guidelines, found here. Click here to see South Dakota Proud Anglers.