HASTY, Colo. - A La Junta man has crushed the previous state record for flathead catfish. On Jan. 19, Tony Chavez pulled a monster from the stilling basin below John Martin Reservoir. Chavez's catfish weighed nearly double that of the previous record fish that was caught back in 2011.
Chavez said he lured his new record-setting 39 9/16-inch, 27-pound 3.68-ounce flathead catfish with chicken livers. The previous record holder was a fish from Pueblo Reservoir that weighed 15-pounds 6-ounces and was 32 2/8-inches long.
Flathead catfish were stocked at John Martin sporadically from 1994 - 2009. These fish were acquired from the state of Arkansas through special trades. Although no flathead catfish have been stocked since 2009, populations of these fish continue to be evident and appear to be self-sustaining.
Flathead catfish have tremendous growth potential. Fish weighing well over 50 pounds are common in the midwestern states. The angling world record for flathead catfish is more than 120 pounds. CPW aquatic staff have sampled several large flatheads at John Martin in recent years, so this record may be broken again in the near future.
"We are really excited for Tony and for John Martin Reservoir," said, Jim Ramsay, CPW Aquatic Biologist. "It is gratifying to see a fish of this size caught in southeastern Colorado. This fish was taken from the stilling basin below John Martin Dam which means the fish escaped from the main reservoir during water releases."
Ramsay added that many more flatheads could be available to catch in this area. The best opportunity to catch flatheads is in the main lake, Ramsay said. These fish can be found along the dam and the rocky points of the north and south shorelines.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife tracks fish records by weight in 46 different species categories. Potential record-holders must have a valid Colorado fishing license or be under the age of 16. The fish in question must be weighed on a state-certified scale, and a weight receipt must be signed by a person who witnessed the weighing. The fish, before being frozen, gutted or altered in any way, must be examined and identified by a CPW biologist or district wildlife manager before an application is submitted.
To view other state fishing records, visit http://cpw.state.co.us/learn/Pages/RecordsbyWeight.aspx.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife manages 42 state parks, more than 300 state wildlife areas, Colorado's wildlife, and a variety of outdoor recreation. Get your CPW park passes, camping, recreational vehicle registration and hunting and fishing licenses online at cpw.state.co.us.
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