NATCHEZ, Miss. (WJTV) – A fisherman in Mississippi 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, from the Mississippi River near Natchez, according to the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks (MDWFP). The department certified his record Monday.
Cronley told the MDWFP he wrestled with the catfish for about 40 minutes before reeling it in. “It truly is the fish of a lifetime,” he said, according to a Facebook post from MDWFP.
In reeling in the monster catfish, Cronley “shattered” a longstanding 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 outweighed 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 purposes, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. In some areas, like the Chesapeake Bay, catfish are considered an invasive species.
Blue catfish typically grow to a length of two feet or less, but can — in rarer cases — exceed 5 feet and 100 pounds, the NOAA says.
Cronley’s record, however, does not appear to hold water outside of Mississippi: The NOAA says a specimen once caught near the border of North Carolina and Virginia weighed 143 pounds.