Stuart Vandyk wasn’t about to let a leg injury get between him and the next world-record blue catfish. With his right leg in a cast, the bowfisherman from Eutawville, South Carolina, hit the Santee Cooper Lakes on Jan. 6. Vandyk and arrowed a monster blue cat later that night that weighed 84.8 pounds. In addition to being the biggest blue cat ever shot by a bowfisherman in South Carolina, his fish has been accepted as the new world record for the species by the Bowfishing Association of America.
A man on a mission, Vandyk also had a friendly score to settle that Friday evening. As Carolina Sportsman reports, his friend David Ard had harvested an 80-pound blue cat just two weeks prior. Ard’s catfish was big enough to set the new bowfishing state and world records in BAA’s record book, but Vandyk knew there had to be some bigger blues out there. After all, the South Carolina state record for line-caught blue catfish was set on the Santee Cooper Lakes system. That fish, caught in 2017, weighed more than 110 pounds.
Vandyk’s world-record fish might have been shy of the 100-pound mark, but with his injured leg, the bowfisherman still had a hard time landing the fish. Luckily, Vandyk’s friends were there to help him haul the massive blue into the boat. Then they brought the fish to a certified scale, where it weighed 84 pounds, 12.8 ounces. They also measured the catfish at 54 inches long with a 37-inch girth.
A note on records and regulations: South Carolina fishing regulations permit bowfishing for nongame species such as shad, blue catfish, bowfin, longnose gar, and common carp. However, the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources only recognizes bowfishing records for bowfin, longnose gar, and common carp. Bowfishing records for blue catfish harvested in the state are recognized and maintained by the BAA. This explains why Vandyk’s blue cat is a South Carolina state record in the BAA’s record book, but not in the SCDNR’s record book.