Angler Justin Hall of Reidsville, North Carolina has officially broken the state record for channel catfish. He caught a 27-pound, 7-ounce channel cat from a farm pond near his home on May 21, which the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission recently certified as a new state record, according to FOX Carolina.
Hall had fished the farm pond for years, but he seldom caught catfish there, according to NCWRC. Then, in mid-May, his 13-year-old son caught a huge channel cat that weighed an estimated 25 pounds. They let the fish go without realizing that it could have made history.
“I told a friend about my son’s catch, and he told me it might have been big enough to beat the state record,” Hall said.
So, Hall went back to the pond the following week. Using a stout Big Cat Fever casting rod and a Zebco Big Cat XT spincast reel, he tossed out a ball of bread dough for bait.
Eventually, a fish took the bait. Hall muscled the catfish near shore, where his wife was waiting with a landing net. But the net wasn’t quite strong enough for a fish of that caliber.
“My wife went down to the waterline to bring it in … [but] it bent the net,” Hall told WRAL.
The 27-pounder measured 36 1/4 inches long, with a 24 7/8-inch girth. The previous state record channel catfish weighed 26 pounds, and was caught from the Neuse River in July 2021. NCWRC keeps records for five catfish species: the blue catfish, the brown bullhead, the channel catfish, the flathead catfish, and the white catfish.
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Channel cats are a popular game fish in the U.S. They’re the official state fish of Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, and Tennessee, and the “unofficial state fish” of Iowa, due to their status as the most abundant game fish in the state. They’re also targeted by many North Carolina anglers, despite their classification as a non-game fish by the NCWRC.