North Carolina Man Catches 'Monster' Catfish, Breaking State Record: 'Dream Come True'

A North Carolina man caught a record-breaking catfish over the weekend that weighed 127.1 pounds.

Rocky Baker from Four Oaks, Johnston County, caught the blue catfish on Sunday in the Roanoke River with the help of his friend, Clayton resident Justin Clifton, who assisted him with hauling the fish onto their boat, WITN reported.

After being weighed at E-Z Bait and Tackle in Goldsboro, it became clear that the blue catfish was the largest ever caught in North Carolina, breaking the previous record by more than 5 pounds.

"It was like a dream come true for most serious catfisherman," Baker told WITN.

Baker and Clifton eventually released the fish back into the Roanoke River.

"They were proud to report that it swam off on its own power," E-Z Bait and Tackle said in a Facebook post on Sunday. "We hope that this monster continues to grow and prosper in the waters of our amazing state!"

Clifton said in a Facebook post that catching the huge fish was a moment he and Baker "will never forget."

"The night started off strong when we landed the first fish of the night at 51lb," Clifton said. "But after a few more fish were caught, nothing could've ever prepared us for what was to come next."

"When that #MADKATZ rod bent over we would've never expected that the new NC state record blue cat would've been on the other end of the line. After a long hard fight we were able to land the giant and the rest is history. Proud to be a part of this with you brother. Congratulations buddy you earned it!"

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Blue catfish is the largest species of North American catfish, capable of growing to more than 100 pounds in weight, according to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries. One blue catfish caught in an inland lake on the Virginia–North Carolina border, for example, weighed 143 pounds.

Blue catfish can grow up to around 5 feet in length—although the average length is less than 2 feet.

The fish are found in coastal and inland waters of several states across New England, the Mid-Atlantic region and the Southeast. They are native to the Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, and Rio Grande river basins but they are considered a problematic invasive species in some areas, such as the Chesapeake Bay, where they were introduced in the 1970s and 1980s.

The previous record for largest blue catfish caught in North Carolina was held by Joey Baird of Gasburg, Virginia. Baird caught a blue catfish weighing 121.9 pounds in Lake Gaston during the July 4 weekend in 2020, the Carolina Sportsman reported.

A blue catfish
Stock image showing a blue catfish in an aquarium. A North Carolina man caught a record-breaking blue catfish on Sunday. iStock