At each year’s jugfest the subject will come up, usually around the campfire, but occasionally during a round of dominoes. How would we handle a record class catfish in order to weigh and record the catch while keeping it not only alive but in good shape. Now, that’s as big of a challenge as catching it in the first place !
Here is a look at the Arkansas record Blue Catfish
116 lbs 12 oz
Mississippi River W. Memphis
Charles Ashley Jr.
Here is the story, narrative by a state wildlife officer.
CHARLES ASHLEY JR.’S WORLD RECORD BLUE
Charles Ashley Jr. lives at Marion, just a short drive from the Mississippi River. On Aug. 3, 2001, he was doing what he often does: fishing for catfish in the “Father of Waters” – with two buddies, in this instance. All in the trio were using chunks of Hormel Spam for bait near a wing dike downstream from the Interstate 55 bridge between Memphis and West Memphis.
For half an hour, Ashley and his buddies had no bites. Then, suddenly, Ashley’s line started moving off. When he set the hook, he knew immediately that he’d hooked a huge fish, and worried that his medium-weight fishing outfit wasn’t going to hold it. The reel was spooled with 20-pound line – and Ashley was sure that this fish was bigger than 20 pounds.
Line and pole held up, though, and after 45 minutes of fighting, Ashley managed to bring the cat to the top. That’s when his buddies got excited. The one holding the landing net just laid it back down; he knew that the cat wasn’t going to fit.
Ashley finally wore the monster catfish down, pulled it alongside the boat and wrestled it in. Then he and his partners headed for shore. Several hours later, when the fish was weighed on a certified scale, Ashley knew he’d caught an exceptional fish. The humongous cat weighed 116 pounds, 12 ounces.
The next day, I certified Ashley’s cat as a new Arkansas rod-and-reel record. A few months later, it was officially recognized as an all-tackle world record.
Since the Arkansas wildlife officer weighed in the world record, it has been eclipsed by a larger catfish ! Hey, there is always a larger one out there, let’s go find him !