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The 10 Biggest Catfish World Records of All Time

Unless you live in Antarctica, the only continent they aren’t known to inhabit, there is a species of catfish nearby.

With nearly 3,000 known species, catfish (order Siluriformes) are one of the most diverse groups of vertebrates in the world. The exciting thing for anglers is that many catfish species possess the essential characteristics of a true game fish – they grow big and they fight hard.

These characteristics, coupled with their prolific distribution, make catfish one of the most popular recreational game fish in the world.

Using the International Game Fish Association’s (IGFA) world record database and its extensive network of members around the world, we produced a list of some of the most popular catfish species in the world.

Not only will we examine where to find these fish and how to identify them – but more importantly, we’ll tell you how to catch some of the world’s biggest catfish.

Here are the world records to beat and tips for how to do it:

Blue Catfish

As the largest catfish species found in North America, the blue cat has long been a favorite target of freshwater anglers looking for a bullish fight to test their skill and tackle.

Blue catfish are native to the Mississippi, Missouri and Ohio River basin systems - extending north into South Dakota and south into Mexico and northern Guatemala. The species has also been introduced into the eastern United States, where it has clearly flourished and grown to record size. Blue catfish frequent deep areas of large rivers and lakes, but are also found in areas with swift current, where they forage for passing food items – both alive and dead.

Preferred baits when targeting the blue catfish include live and dead herring, bluegill, bream, crawfish, blood worms, chicken livers and stink bait. Although most blue catfish are caught with bait, they can also be tricked with bucktail jigs, plastic worms and flies.

Anglers targeting blue catfish will usually present their bait on the bottom, as this is where the fish spend most of their time hunting for their next meal. Their large size, strong fights and quality meat all make the blue catfish a top freshwater game fish.

Blue Catfish World Record

All-Tackle Record: 64.86 kilograms (143 pounds, 0 ounces), Kerr Lake, Va., USA

Channel Catfish

Highly valued for both its food and sporting value, the channel catfish is one of the most popular catfish species in North America. The widely distributed channel cat is found in throughout most freshwater lakes, rivers, streams and ponds of the United States, southern Canada and northern Mexico.

The channel catfish can be distinguished from other catfish species in North America by its spotted body and deep forked tail—making it unique from the blue and white catfish that are not spotted.

Small fishes, crustaceans (crayfish), and insects—alive or dead—are some of the channel cat’s favorite prey items, so consequently these are also some of the preferred baits of anglers targeting channel cats.

A variety of artificial and “stink” baits, fished in the lower water column or on the bottom, are also effective when targeting these fish. When hooked, the channel cat makes strong, determined runs.

Channel Catfish World Record

All-Tackle Record: 26.3 kilograms (58 pounds), Santee-Cooper Reservoir, S.C., USA

Flathead Catfish

As the second largest catfish species in North America, the flathead is an extremely popular freshwater game fish and is naturally distributed throughout the United States and northern Mexico, with introductions occurring throughout the world.

Flathead catfish prefer to inhabit debris laden pools, within small to large rivers, where it can ambush, or scavenge for, their next meal. While its general coloration of mottled yellows and browns does not differ greatly from other catfish, the flathead is very distinctive in appearance and is not easily confused with any other species. Its flat head is accentuated by oval shaped eyes and a protruding lower jaw, making it easily recognizable.

The flathead’s diet consists mainly of smaller fishes and insects, with the preference seemingly on fish. Its large size and great tasting flesh make the flathead very popular with anglers. When targeting flatheads, anglers will look for slow-moving pools within a river, where logs and other debris have gathered.

Dropping a small fish to the bottom of these pools is one of the most effective methods for targeting flathead. Once hooked, these powerful fish test not only the angler’s skill, but also their tackle, as they oftentimes use submerged debris to break the angler’s line.

While using natural bait is the most popular method of fishing for this species, anglers targeting crappie and bass with artificial baits are often surprised by a large flathead taking their plug, jig or soft plastic lure.

Read the rest of the article here: 10 Biggest Catfish World Records of All Time