This big cat was huge, but wasn't big enough to win a fishing tournament!
West Virginia's blue catfish record has been broken again. A tournament angler hauled in the new record catch during a catfish tournament on the Ohio River on May 14.
Mark Blauvelt of Ohio was fishing the river using a cut shad as bait during the tournament being held near Gallopolis, Ohio. Blues were only re-introduced back into the Ohio and Kanawha River a few years back, but anglers are starting to haul in some big ones.
Blauvelt's catfish hit while he and his partner Ryan Lawrence were drifting a bend in the river when the monster struck. It didn't take long for him to realize he had an above-average fish on the line. "The longer I fight it, the bigger it's getting because I can't move it off the bottom," Blauvelt told WV Metro News. "He was staying on the bottom and he was incredibly strong. Finally he came right up along the boat real quick and went back down before we could net him."
The one glance of the fish before it made its next run was enough to make Blauvelt nervous not because he was thinking of the state record, but rather because he knew the fish would be a huge help in the tournament. "We didn't want to lose that one because he's a money fish," Blauvelt said.
It took at least another half hour before the two men were able to haul the fish aboard. They realized that this catfish was special right away. "It took both of us to pull him over the side of the boat and we just looked at each other going, 'Holy Cow!' I'd never caught a blue that big," Blauvelt said. "We knew the record was 50 and change and maybe it would be a record."
Knowing it could be a record and fearing for the fish's safety, the fishermen alerted the tournament's director on the way back to the ramp, who in turn, alerted the West Virginia DNR.
The big cat was actually too large for the live well in Blauvelt's boat. Fortunately, one of the fisherman's friends was also present and they were able to keep the fish alive in the larger live well of his boat until the West Virginia officials could arrive.
Once weighed on certified scales, the big blue officially came in at 59.74 pounds. That's more than seven pounds heavier than the record caught by Austin Hoffman in 2014.
After the catfish was properly documented, Blauvelt released it back into the river to fight another day. "Once it hit the water it splashed its tail and took off," Blauvelt told the WV Metro News. "It was in great shape."
And in case you're wondering how the men did in the tournament? You might be surprised to learn Blauvelt and Lawrence were definitely helped by the record catch, but somehow came in second place.
It seems blue cats are definitely making a nice comeback in the Ohio River. We'll be keeping our eyes on the area to see what monster fish comes out of the region next!