Record Flathead Catfish Reported in PA

It was the first flathead over 50 pounds ever reported caught in the Keystone State.

Record Flathead Catfish Reported in PA

Jeff Bonawitz, pictured with his nephew Dylan, caught his record on April 6 on the Susquehanna River in York County. (Photo courtesy of Jeff Bonawitz/Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission)

A good day of fishing turned great for a Pennsylvania angler who recently caught a record-sized flathead catfish.

The 50-pound, 7-ounce behemoth was caught by Jeff Bonawitz, 54, of East Lampeter Township while fishing April 6 on the Susquehanna River, according to a Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission news release. The fish beat the previous record (48-6, Blue Marsh Spillway, 2006) by more than 2 pounds.

“We had already caught several 30-pounders to that point, so it had been a good day,” said Bonawitz, who was fishing with his friend, Bryan Bruce of York. “We were running low on bait, so I decided to use the biggest bluegill we had left. I had a bite and let the fish toy with it for a few minutes. When I finally pulled, it just bent the rod straight down. I could tell it was big. It kept hanging down deep and when it finally came up to the top … I’ve fished the Susquehanna for years and I’ve never caught anything quite like it.”

Record Catfish
Jeff Bonawitz used a live bluegill to catch this 50-7 flathead catfish. (Photo courtesy of Jeff Bonawitz/Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission)

Fishing in 22 feet of water south of Lower Bear Island, Bonawitz baited the bluegill onto his medium-duty 8-foot spinning rod and reel, spooled with 25-pound monofilament line. He fought the fish for 25 minutes, and after taking measurements of it in the boat, he suspected he might have a record.


According to the news release, Bonawitz was unable to locate a certified scale immediately after the catch, so he kept the catfish alive overnight in an aerated container at his home. The fish was weighed the next day on a certified scale at Columbia Bait and Tackle in Lancaster County.


>>From news release: As is required for state record consideration, Bonawitz contacted PFBC law enforcement officials and arranged for an in-person identification and examination of the fish. Waterways Conservation Officer Jeffrey Schmidt conducted the inspection and verified the weight. A completed state record fish application including color photographs was reviewed by PFBC officials and confirmed. State record fish are judged only by weight and must exceed the previous state record by at least two ounces.

Record Catfish
Jeff Bonawitz watches his nephew release the big flathead. (Photo courtesy of Jeff Bonawitz/Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission)

Bonawitz, with his 8-year-old nephew Dylan helping out, released the fish alive near Wrightsville Bridge. Mike Parker with Pennsylvania Fish and Boat said a state wildlife officer was on hand when the fish was released and confirmed it swam away.

“It was such an amazing fish,” said Bonawitz in the news release. “I thought the best thing to do was put it back so that maybe the next guy could catch it. I have a feeling this record may not last very long.”

Click here for more on Pennsylvania State Record Fish.


Record Catfish
Dylan Bonawitz coaxes the record fish to swim, which it did with no issues, according to the PFBC. (Photo courtesy of Jeff Bonawitz/Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission)

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Berkley

Berkley's New Terminal Tackle

OSG's Lynn Burkhead and Chad LaChance, host of World Fishing Network's Fishful Thinker television show, talk about Berkley's new innovative terminal tackle being introduced at ICAST 2019.

Mustad

Mustad's Saltwater Jig Lineup

Russ Whisler shows OSG's Lynn Burkhead the innovative features and great color schemes in Mustad's voluminous lineup of saltwater jigs introduced at ICAST 2019.

13 Fishing Omen Black Baitcasting Rod

13 Fishing Omen Black Baitcasting Rod

Multiple time FLW Costa winner Jessi Mizell is no stranger to catching big Florida bass on a popping frog. As he tells OSG's Lynn Burkhead, with the new 13 Fishing Omen Black baitcasting rod, the job just got easier.

MLF Pro Tips: Go-To Baits for the Spawn

MLF Pro Tips: Go-To Baits for the Spawn

Major League Fishing pros talk about the first lure they choose when targeting spawning bass.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

Celebrate with great food for your backyard BBQ or picnic with these outdoor recipes. Wild Game

10 Recipes for Your Outdoor BBQ

Game & Fish Online Staff

Celebrate with great food for your backyard BBQ or picnic with these outdoor recipes.

The colder waters of early spring are prime times to use bait rigs for stripers. Other Freshwater

3 Deadly Bait Rigs For Stripers

J.B. Kasper - April 21, 2005

The colder waters of early spring are prime times to use bait rigs for stripers.

Experts agree record channel cat caught in 1949 was actually a blue catfish. Records

Upon Further Review: 70-Year-Old Catfish Record Voided

G&F Online Staff - May 22, 2019

Experts agree record channel cat caught in 1949 was actually a blue catfish.

As most catfish anglers know, blue cats, channel cats and flatheads will eat darn near anything that fits in their mouths. Catfish

5 Ways To Catch Catfish on Lures

Keith Sutton - September 16, 2015

As most catfish anglers know, blue cats, channel cats and flatheads will eat darn near...

See More Trending Articles

More Records

He caught the 7-plus-pound smallie from the Lake Michigan shore in downtown Chicago. Bass

Shoreline Angler Sets Smallmouth Record

October 18, 2019

He caught the 7-plus-pound smallie from the Lake Michigan shore in downtown Chicago.

The trophy deer could rank fourth in the world for non-typical whitetail deer. Records

Kansas Bowhunter Scores World-Class Whitetail

G&F Online Staff - January 08, 2020

The trophy deer could rank fourth in the world for non-typical whitetail deer.

Also, poaching cases being investigated in Arizona, Montana. Records

Angler Drowns, Elk Freed From Hammock, Another Missouri Record

G&F Online Staff - November 08, 2019

Also, poaching cases being investigated in Arizona, Montana.

2018 Arkansas typical whitetail came from waterfowl land and scored 200+ points. Records

Decade's Best: William Lloyd's Record Whitetail

Lynn Burkhead - January 14, 2020

2018 Arkansas typical whitetail came from waterfowl land and scored 200+ points.

See More Records

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.