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State Record Flathead Catfish


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State Record Flathead Catfish

The post about state record fish generated the usual yearly discussion about what would we do if we caught “The Big One”. Like all of you, I have done my homework thinking about what I would do. I have probably taken this all a step farther than most of you and I thought I would share what I found. In 2004 I was able to devote some time and effort into chasing down the facts around the current state record catfish.

The record Flathead is 70-pounds caught in 1970 in the St Croix River and the record Channel Cat is 38-pounds caught in 1975 in the Mississippi River. I was trying to narrow down as much of the fishing information as possible to improve my own chances of getting a record fish. I was trying to find where it was caught, what kind of bait was used, etc, etc. I was able to visit the DNR Headquarters in St Paul where they keep the records and look at the Channel Cat and Flathead Cat record files. I was amazed to find that the files did not contain much specific information and that the verification procedures at that time were not a very rigid process.

In the Flathead Catfish file the only verification of the fish was a newspaper article showing a picture of the fish and an interview with the fishermen involved. I couldn't even tell what paper the article was from. The article was written by Hank Kehborn, the paper's Outdoor Editor. Here is the information contained in the article:

" Ever wonder why the water levels of the St Croix River fluctuate to some fantastic degrees? Waterologists, if we may call persons who make a study of this matter by that name, will claim that rain, too much or too little, will keep shooting water levels up or shoot them down. That ain't necessarily so.

Five Iowa catfishing experts may have much to do with it by taking lunker cats out of the water near Marine-On-The-St Croix. The five are John Lee Robert and Clair Arnold of Garden City, Ralph Ligget of Des Moines and Howard Baker and Don Proctor of Humeston.

During the past few days these catfish experts, who make annual trips to the river, have taken three beauties. The monsters weighed 70 pounds, 68 pounds and 24 pounds. "We took some smaller ones and a few carp but they don't count," Robert said. Is this luck or is it skill? Sid Cronell, owner of the Marine Boat and Canoe Service, said it's skill. "They have been doing this for years," he said. "There isn't any luck connected with it. These guys know how to fish those big cats."

Robert, who landed the 70 pounder, said "we use deep sea fishing equipment with a 40-pound test line. We also use a big musky net." And what's the bait? Robert was a little hesitant about the bait being used but did admit that "we use just about everything". Liggett, who landed the 68 pounder, also was reluctant to reveal the bait secret. The 24 pounder was taken by Proctor.

Robert, who added that it takes a lot of time and patience to get the big cats, said that the river has some whoppers. "I had one break a 40-pound test line and last year we swamped the boat trying to land one." They're hoping to get that one back on the line.

I’ve been able to work that whole section of the St Croix River and I have a pretty good idea where it was caught. Anyway, that was the article that garnered them the Minnesota state record flathead catfish. Here is the newspaper picture that was in the file. Back then you didn’t have to follow the process listed in the current Minnesota Fishing Regulations. A newspaper reporter documents the catch and gets a photo and the DNR certifies it as a record fish. I wonder if that fish was truly 70 lbs weighed on a certified scale?

I have some interesting information on the flathead that was the record before this one took over - I will post that next. I’ll also put up a post on the state record channel cat.

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Great post Steve. Thanks for sharing!

Not knowing the size of the guys in that picture, I wouldn't even want to make a guess. The guy on the left looks like he's quite a big fellow.

It is what it is. Just ask the musky guys about questioning a record grin.gif;\)

I don't have a doubt that bigger fish swim in the Croix, Miss, and MN. I would think that all have fish of record caliber.

I love stuff like this and it must have been a nice treat to dig through all that Steve.

Come across any info on a 99lb channel cat in White Bear Lake?

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 Originally Posted By: dtro
Come across any info on a 99lb channel cat in White Bear Lake?

I kind of got a chuckle out of that when I saw it too. I think that 99 lb channel cat ate the Golden Rainbow Trout they released for that first Golden Rainbow Ice Fishing Contest quite a few years back.

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