Record Catfish Caught In Florida
Eric Auston Jr. holds up his record 55.05-pound flathead catfish.Eric Auston Jr.
A new record has been set for flathead catfish in the state of Florida.
Eric Auston Jr. of Milton now holds the honor, setting the rod-and-reel record with a 55.05-pound monster caught in the Yellow River.
The 33-year-old was fishing with his good friend Brandy Wallace Oct. 9 at 2:30 a.m when the fish was landed. He used a rod and reel with 25-pound-test line and a small bluegill as bait.
Auston's fish was quite larger than the existing record flathead - a 49.39-pound catfish caught in the Apalachicola River in 2004. Auston said he fishes for flatheads only a few times each year. Prior to last weekend, his biggest flathead weighed 42 pounds.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) maintains records for most species of freshwater fish. The FWC will present Auston with a certificate of his record catch for display.
Three criteria must be met for a record to be set: the fish must be legally caught in Florida, identified by a fishery biologist, and weighed on a certified scale. Auston said he was especially grateful to the FWC for its efforts to get the fish certified.
Anglers can also participate in the Big Catch angler recognition program. Anyone who catches a fish above the minimum qualifying weight for that species can submit a Big Catch application. More information about the State Record and Big Catch programs is available at MyFWC.com/Fishing.
Flathead catfish are native to Midwestern waters, but not to the eastern United States. In the 1970s, they made their way to one southeastern state after another. First identified in the Apalachicola River in 1982, they are now found in every Panhandle river from the Ochlockonee River west to the Florida-Alabama line. They are significant predators and should be harvested when caught. There are no bag or size limits on flatheads in Florida, and they are good for eating.
The world record is a 123-pound beast caught in Kansas in 1998, according to the International Game Fish Association. Fisheries biologists expect flatheads may eventually grow close to that size in Florida waters.