Monster Catfish Caught by Indiana Angler Breaks Michigan State Record

An Indiana angler has reeled in a monster catfish in Michigan, breaking the state record.

While fishing in the St Joe River, a tributary of Lake Michigan, fisherman Lloyd Tanner, from Hobart, reeled in a record-breaking flathead catfish weighing 53.35 pounds and measuring 48 inches long.

The previous Michigan state record-holder was caught in 2014 and weighed in at 52 pounds, spanning 46.02 inches long.

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Lloyd Tanner with his winning catfish. The flathead catfish weighed 53.35 pounds, breaking the Michigan state record. Michigan Department of Natural Resources

According to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR), in order to qualify for a state record, your fish must exceed the current listed state record weight, and its species and weight has to be verified by a DNR fisheries biologist.

All potential state record fish must be weighed on a commercial-grade scale, like one from a grocery store.

Tanner told the DNR that he usually visits St Joe River every weekend to fish with friends in an amateur fishing club called the Michigan Catfish Anglers Trail. "I've been fishing in Michigan for almost 30 years. What draws me to Michigan is fishing for big catfish," he said in a statement.

While Tanner might have smashed the Michigan state record for flathead catfish, the world record weight was actually recorded in 1982 in a behemoth pulled from the Arizona river, tipping the scale at a gargantuan 139 pounds 14 oz.

Flathead catfish, also known as mud catfish, Jonnie cats and yellow cats, are natively found in rivers and lakes in the lower Great Lakes and Mississippi River basin. The species is a very popular sport fish thanks to their size and taste, so much so that they have been introduced in many other states and have easily adapted to their new habitats, including to parts of Washington, Oregon, California, Arizona, New Mexico, Wyoming, Colorado, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, and Pennsylvania.

However, flathead catfish are one of the top predators of other fish in their local ecosystem, as unlike other catfish, which are generally scavengers, flathead catfish prey only on live fish.

In some cases they have become an invasive species, out-competing the native fish species, for example the Atlantic sturgeon and shortnose sturgeon populations in the Delaware River, leading to those native fish populations dropping and disrupting some natural ecological processes.

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Stock image: a catfish in a river. iStock / Getty Images Plus

While this might be bad news for the native fish species in these introduced areas, it's good news for the local human communities: recreational fishing for introduced flathead catfish has provided economic benefits to rural towns, especially those near rivers and lakes where competitive fishing tournaments take place.

Efforts to reduce flathead catfish levels in these introduced waters have therefore been met with a lack of enthusiasm from the local communities.