The Colorado flathead catfish record has not just been broken, it was destroyed.
The new record fish almost doubled the previous record of 15 pounds 6 ounces and 32 2/8-inch long fish. The new record was set by angler Tony Chavez who was fishing just below John Martin Reservoir in southeastern Colorado. His record breaking catch came in at 27 pounds 3.68 ounces and measured 39 9/16 inches long. He caught it while using chicken livers as bait.
The flathead catfish were stocked off and on from 1994 to 2009 and have been known to grow much larger in other parts of the country where 50-pound fish are caught regularly. The world record for flathead catfish is a whopping 123 pounds 9 ounces.
While John Martin Reservoir will probably not be producing the next world record, Colorado anglers should be glad to know that there are probably even larger fish swimming around the southeast Colorado lake. Large fish have shown up in Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) population sampling by fisheries crews, meaning this lake is primed to produce more big flathead catfish.
The fish that were originally stocked in the lake came from Arkansas when there was availability through trades. Now CPW believes that the population is self-sustaining so hopefully further stockings will not be required to maintain the fishery.
Aquatic Biologist Jim Ramsay from CPW says:
We are really excited for Tony and for John Martin Reservoir. It is gratifying to see a fish of this size caught in southeastern Colorado. This fish was taken from the stilling basin below John Martin Dam which means the fish escaped from the main reservoir during water releases.
CPW has a rigorous certification procedure for potential record fish. In addition to being weighed on a certified scale, a CPW biologist is required to examine the fish before it is frozen or altered in any way. To see more Colorado records by weight, you can visit the CPW website.
If you decide to go and try to catch a flathead catfish at John Martin Reservoir, Ramsay recommends fishing along the dam as well as near rocky points on the north and south shorelines.