A recently caught state record catfish might be as old as the 30-year-old record it broke, according to the Arizona Game and Fish Department.
Carson Pete's 33.36-pound channel catfish caught Sunday on Upper Mary Lake near Flagstaff, breaking the previous record of 32 pounds, 4 ounces caught in 1987 by Chuck Berndt at Parker Canyon Lake.
"It is feasible that this new record catfish is 30-plus years old," AZGFD Wildlife Specialist Scott Rogers said in a press release. Rogers helped weigh the fish. "The oldest on record for this species is 40. These slow growing cats live a long time. Perhaps he was hatched the same year the old record was set."
Pete's fish measured 39 1/2 inches and took about 20 minutes to land.
Pete was fishing from shore when he noticed a large fish tail about 50 yards away. So he hiked to the the fish.
From the Arizona Game and Fish news release:
He happened to have brought a heavy spinning rod with 50-pound braided line, a 60-pound fluorocarbon leader, and a 7/0 Gamakatsu circle hook. Just before the sun crawled beneath a horizon of pine trees, Pete grabbed a few frozen anchovies he'd dipped in a homemade fish oil/garlic mix and slid them onto the hook. Then he cast the bait near a brush line in 2 feet of water depth.
Immediately, a fish took the bait, drifted away -- and then bolted. Pete said he set the hook three times as the fish peeled out about 60 yards of line during a cool and breezy evening. After about 20 minutes of wrestling and reeling, Pete got the huge fish to shore.
The fish was weighed at the Arizona Game and Fish office in Flagstaff on Monday.
"Before I left, my 7-year-old daughter kept saying, 'You're going to catch a big fish. Send a picture when you do,'" said Pete, a Flagstaff resident who was targeting northern pike. "Well, I saw a few people fishing for pike and no one was having any luck. So I just kept fishing and fishing."
The inland waters catch-and-release record catfish also was taken from Upper Lake Mary, which has an elevation of 7,000 feet. Jared Sandall of Rimrock caught that 34-inch channel catfish in 2015.