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New State Record Flathead Catfish Caught in Florida

The previous record also was caught in the same Panhandle river.

New State Record Flathead Catfish Caught in Florida

The state record for flathead catfish in Florida was only a year old when Lavon Nowling broke it recently. (Photo courtesy of Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission)

Florida has a new state record for flathead catfish, with the report of a 70-pounder caught on the same river as the previous record.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission reported Lavon Nowling's recent catch on live bait in the Yellow River has been certified as a record. His catch weighed 69.9 pounds, measured 48.5 inches long, and had a girth of 38.25 inches.

The previous record, caught last year by Marvin Griffin on the same river, weighed 69.3 pounds.

Record FL Flathead
Lavon Nowling's state-record flathead catfish in Florida beat the previous record by more than a half-pound. (Photo courtesy of Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission)

"I’ve caught some good ones before this fish, but none of them were more than 54 pounds,” the Santa Rosa County resident said in an FWC news release. "I've been fishing since I was old enough to hold a pole and have been fishing on Yellow River as long as I can remember."


Record FL Flathead
Lavon Nowling watches his state-record flathead catfish officially weighed. (Photo courtesy of Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission)

"I've been deep-sea fishing to creek fishing and I never expected to catch a state record fish," Nowling added. "That day I was fishing for channel catfish and can't believe I caught a huge flathead. I was in the right place at the right time."


The record fish was weighed on a certified scale at FWC's Blackwater Hatchery near Holt.

Record FL Flathead
The record flathead catfish weighed 69.9 pounds. (Photo courtesy of Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission)

Flathead catfish are a nonnative fish found in many northwest Florida Panhandle river systems. Flatheads prefer long, slow flowing, moderately turbid rivers. Their solitary lifestyle makes them more difficult to catch than other catfish. Adult flathead catfish feed primarily on live fish, crawfish, freshwater clams and mussels.

To certify a new freshwater Florida state record, an FWC employee must witness its weighing on a certified scale and a biologist must identify the species. Anglers can check the current state records at BigCatchFlorida.com by clicking on State Record, and should notify the nearest FWC regional office if they believe they have caught a record. Contact information for FWC regional offices can be found at MyFWC.com/Contact by clicking on Contact Regional Offices.

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