“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. Well he has a nice picture for his daughter now!
Just before the sun began to set, Pete spotted a giant fish tail, dark and maybe two feet in length, curled beneath the surface of the water.
He was ready for a heavy fight having brought a heavy spinning rod with 50-pound braided line, a 60-pound fluorocarbon leader, and a 7/0 circle hook.
A few frozen anchovies dipped in a homemade fish oil/garlic mix are hard to resist for catfish. Then he cast the bait near a brush line in 2 feet of water depth.
Immediately, a fish took the bait, and peeled out about 60 yards of fishing line on his run.
The battle took about 20 minutes of wrestling and reeling until Pete got the huge fish to shore.
Monday morning at the Arizona Game and Fish Department office in Flagstaff, the catfish weighed 33.36 pounds, measured 39 ½ inches in total length, and set an inland waters hook-and-line state record for channel catfish.
Pete broke the previous record by about one pound. That record belonged to Chuck Berndt of Sierra Vista, who caught a channel catfish at Parker Canyon Lake that weighed 32 pounds, 4 ounces and measured 38 ¾ inches. Berndt caught that previous record fish in 1987.
It is possible that Pete’s catfish is as old as the record.
“It is feasible that this new record catfish is 30-plus years old,” said AZGFD Wildlife Specialist Scott Rogers, who 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.”
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