September 04, 2015
For years on end, die-hard fisherman head out to the lake hundreds of days each year, searching for that one fish. That one fish that defies all the odds, and grows into a true, record caliber-sized fish. For an Illinois resident out fishing for fun, that's exactly what happened.
Illinois resident Jim Klauzer, caught and landed what might be the biggest flathead catfish in state history. This behemoth of a flathead weighed 81 pounds and 6.4 ounces. The fish was caught out of Sangchris Lake, in Springfield, Ill., surpassing a 78-pound flathead caught by Jody Harris from Carlyle Lake almost exactly 20 years ago.
"I was just out there to hang out with a friend and put a few fish in the freezer," said Klauzer.
Without a proper landing net on hand, Klauzer was forced to grab the giant catfish by the jaw. If anyone knows a thing or two about big catfish, their mouths are sandpaper-like with bone-hard grips.
"When I saw the fish next to the boat, I knew I had a record, I just didn't have a net so I had to grab him with my hands," said Klauzer
Since the fish was caught during the weekend, Klauzer hit the panic button when he realized there might not be a way to record and qualify the catch. He had to figure out some way of certifying this fish.
Only a live fish will qualify for a record catch, so Klauzer used what looks like a horse trough with a bubbler.
Reaching out to total strangers and a friend, Trevor Miller from Big Red's Bait Shop near the lake, the men helped transport Klauzer and his catch.
Transporting the giant catfish into a makeshift pond, along with a registered scale and DNR biologist on hand, they were able to get official records of the fish.
After the record was official, Klauzer drove the fish back to the lake, and released it.
Klauzer must now wait until next week for an official certification.