Virginia has a new state record for blue catfish in the archery category, as confirmed by officials with the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources. The agency posted a photo of Louisa resident Jason Emmel's 66-pound, 5-ounce blue cat on their social media channels with the announcement. The fish is nearly four pounds larger than the previous record, William Bates Jr's 62-pound, 4-ounce fish that somebody caught last year.
According to wildlife officials, Emmel's catch had a whopping 35-inch girth and measured 3 feet, 6 inches long. A biologist examined the catch, and it has been certified as the new Virginia catfish record by the official state committee. Emmel caught the massive fish from the Pamunkey River.
The news confused people on social media, unaware that blue catfish could sometimes legally be targeted using bowfishing methods in Virginia. Most states only allow fish like gar, snakehead, and carp to be taken using archery gear. That is true for Virginia too. Officials would love for anglers to shoot as many snakeheads as possible since they are an invasive species in the state.
However, many anglers do not realize that blue catfish are considered invasive in many areas of the state. As a result, Virginia wildlife officials allow them to harvest using a bow below the fall line, where they have been declared invasive. They've become such a problem that there are no possession limits on how many can be taken in some areas. The previous record, arrowed in Occoquan Bay, was taken in just such an area.
Who would have thought? I guess you learn something new every day, and Virginia's region-specific catfish bowfishing is one of them. Congratulations to Jason on his Virginia catfish record catch!