April 12, 2022
This may be the biggest catfish story of the year, and we have yet to hit the peak for catching trophy whiskerfish this season.
The new state record blue catfish in Mississippi, caught by Eugene Cronley on April 7, not only weighed over triple digits, it broke the previous record by more than 30 pounds!
"It is truly a fish of a lifetime," said Cronley, according to the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks in a Facebook post announcing the record. Cronley's rod-and-reel record was certified by the state’s Fisheries Bureau and weighed 131 pounds, eclipsing the previous record of 95 pounds (caught in 2009).
The largest previous catch of a Mississippi blue catfish weighed 101 pounds, though it was caught by two anglers in 1997, and is considered a "Trophy Division" state record in Mississippi. The MDWF said it took Cronley 40 minutes to subdue the giant fish. He used skipjack herring as bait while fishing the Mississippi River near Natchez.
Cronley’s catch is the first reported state fishing record of 2022 in Mississippi.
The International Game Fish Association world record for blue catfish is 143 pounds, caught in 2011 by Richard Anderson in Virginia.
Blue catfish, native to the Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio and Rio Grande river systems, is considered as great a food source as it is a brutish fighter. They’ve also been stocked in 20 states, according to NOAA Fisheries, and their range extends north into South Dakota, Minnesota and Pennsylvania, south into Mexico and Guatemala, and east/southeast to Mississippi, Alabama and the Mid-Atlantic.
Blue catfish is considered an invasive species in some places, especially Chesapeake Bay, where, according to NOAA, "They have expanded their range and population so much that they are likely negatively affecting the Bay ecosystem because they eat so many native species, such as striped bass, blue crab, shad, herring, and Atlantic sturgeon."
Blues are considered the largest catfish in North America, though flathead catfish frequently eclipse 100 pounds. The IGFA says the only larger catfish is the wels, found in central and eastern Europe and southern Russia.