NATCHEZ, Mississippi (WJTV) — A Mississippi fisherman has set a new record for the largest blue catfish ever caught in the state.
Eugene Cronley, of Brandon, caught the 131-pound fish on April 7 in the Mississippi River near Natchez, according to the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks (MDWFP). The department certified its record on Monday.
Cronley told MDWFP he struggled with the catfish for about 40 minutes before bringing it back. “This is truly the fish of a lifetime,” he said, according to a Facebook post from MDWFP.
By shaking up the monster catfish, Cronley “shattered” a long-standing rod and reel record set 13 years ago in 2009, when a Mississippi angler caught a 95-pound blue catfish in the same area. Cronley’s fish also trumped the largest blue catfish ever caught in the state – 101 pounds, caught in 1997 – rod and reel or not.
Blue catfish are native to the Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio and Rio Grande river basins, but have been stocked in other freshwaters for fishing, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. In some areas, such as the Chesapeake Bay, catfish are considered an invasive species.
Blue catfish typically reach a length of two feet or less, but can — in rarer cases — exceed 5 feet and 100 pounds, according to NOAA.
Cronley’s record, however, doesn’t seem to hold up outside of Mississippi: NOAA says a specimen once caught near the North Carolina-Virginia border weighed 143 pounds.
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