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Stop the Presses Again, Another Big Fish!

Just a week ago I told you about a big flathead catfish caught from Branched Oak Reservoir, Stop the Presses, Big Fish!  This week I have another monster fish to tell you about.

I have been saying that there are some blue catfish in our Missouri River that are large enough to break our existing, 44-year old, rod & reel blue catfish record.  Last week that record came really close to being toppled.

Bob Campbell down in southeast Nebraska caught a blue catfish last Wednesday that officially weighed-in at 91 pounds and some odd ounces!!!!!

blue cat - 2014

Bob has been fishing the Mighty Mo for quite awhile and has dried off a few big catfish, he knows what he is doing.  But this big blue was WAY BIGGER than any cats he had caught before.  The fish was 52 1/2 inches long and ate a live baitfish.  Bob said he caught the monster in only 4 or 5 feet of water–apparently that big blue was on the prowl looking for something to eat!  When the fish was hooked, it took off down river and Bob and his partner had to pull anchor and go along with it!  He was tackled up with the gear he needed to handle it though, a good ABU Garcia casting reel spooled with a quality 30-pound test monofilament.  But . . . their landing net was nowhere near big enough!  When they got the fish to the boat, they grabbed it by the lower jaw and pulled it in.

Let me add a little more to the story.  The fish was first weighed Wednesday evening and weighed exactly the same as our current rod & reel blue catfish record–100 pounds 8 ounces!  I was jazzed-up when I first heard about that!  We had a couple of fisheries biologist head down Bob’s way last Thursday morning and they officially weighed the fish at 91-some pounds.  Bob kept the fish alive over night, you can see the rope in its jaw, so the only way it could have lost weight would have been to puke up its stomach contents.  Regardless of falling short of the record, that was a BIG FISH and an outstanding catch.

Here is another view of the fish on the deck of a boat:

photo5a

I have more good news to add to this story:  The fish was kept alive and hauled to our Ak-Sar-Ben Aquarium near Gretna.  It is being held in one of the tanks in the back room right now; we want to be sure it is completely healthy and unstressed, but by the end of this week it should be on display!!!!  I cannot wait to see it!

By the way, Bob is planning to get a replica mount, so all of us can see the fish, alive, and he can have it hanging on the wall as well!

Thank you, Bob, and CONGRATULATIONS!  What an outstanding catch!

About Daryl Bauer

Daryl is a lifelong resident of Nebraska (except for a couple of years spent going to graduate school in South Dakota). He has been employed as a fisheries biologist for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission for 25 years, and his current tour of duty is as the fisheries outreach program manager. Daryl loves to share his educational knowledge and is an avid multi-species angler. He holds more than 120 Nebraska Master Angler Awards for 14 different species and holds more than 30 In-Fisherman Master Angler Awards for eight different species. He loves to talk fishing and answer questions about fishing in Nebraska, be sure to check out his blog at outdoornebraska.org.

15 comments

  1. How old do you estimate the fish to be? How many more years will it (he or she) live in the aquarium?

    • How old was that big blue? I can only guess, maybe an “educated” guess but only a guess nonetheless. Big fish often are some of the fastest-growing fish in a population, but the fact remains that in order to reach state record proportions that fish had to live a long time. I would bet that big blue was in excess of 25 years old, maybe a lot more than 25.

      Let me tell you another story. We had another big blue catfish donated to our Ak-Sar-Ben aquarium in the past. That fish arrived in the back of a pickup with some wet burlap sacks over the top of it. That fish had been driven a long ways after being shown off in the downtown of some small farming community. We never thought that fish would survive, but it did and it lived a long time on display at the Ak-Sar-Ben Aquarium. I am not sure how many years that fish survived, I would have to check with our aquarium director to know for sure but if I remember right it was over 10 years.

      I do not know if this big blue will survive that long, but once it survives the stress of capture, confinement and transfer, once it is on display in the aquarium, life will be pretty good, and it could survive for a long time.

      Daryl B.

  2. I think its great. I cant wait to see it.

  3. The fish looks like it lost a lot of oxygen as it is mottled in red..so will the fish even survive? I am like Josh..we are asked to as I say, “let em go and let em grow” practice catch and release and then we want to display the fish instead. I think the fish would be happier and perhaps produce a world record one day if not for the greed of man.. Thanks

    • If you read my blog post, I told you it was being held in a tank at the Ak-Sar-Ben Aquarium, not on display yet, because we want to be sure it is healthy and unstressed before putting it on display. As of yesterday morning, when I wrote that blog post, the fish was doing very well and appeared to be on track to be on display soon. Yes, the fish had been confined on a rope for some time and yes, it had some abrasions on its sides, but catfish are very resilient and so far it looks like it will survive, no problem.

      Keep this all in perspective: We are talking about exactly 1, ONE big blue catfish from Nebraska’s entire stretch of Missouri River. There are a lot more blue catfish out there and I am sure that includes fish larger than this one. There is no bigger proponent of catch & release, especially the catch & release of big fish than me. I am on that soapbox here on my blog ALL THE TIME.

      The angler who caught this big blue catfish offered it for display. With one big blue catfish on display we will refuse similar offers. Sure, I like to see big fish immediately released, but if the angler offered it for display, I see no problem with displaying that one big blue catfish. In fact I can see a lot of benefits to displaying that fish–If there is one thing I have learned it is that folks are fascinated by big fish, and the bigger the better. There is no doubt in my mind that a lot of folks will visit our Ak-Sar-Ben Aquarium just to see that big blue catfish. While they are there, they can learn a lot more about Nebraska’s fish, fisheries, and the stewardship of those resources. While they are there they can even learn about catch & release of big fish! I believe that can be a benefit and will be a lot better fate for that fish than if it was turned into a big platter of crispy fillets.

      Oh, a couple other things: First of all, “happy” is a human emotion. Fish are not happy nor unhappy; people project those emotions onto animals.

      And, there is no greed involved, none at all,

      Daryl B.

  4. Let it swim.. We can’t even catch state record flattie at B.O. so the argument about attracting people to our fisheries is kinda off in a sense.. Don’t get me wrong, the idea obviously works when protecting a fish or trying to create the dominate big fish in a body of water.. Catch big fish, put em’ back..bait up & go again! We have an amazing flathead population that thrives because of that at Branched Ocean! But, if we have a chance to improve the state record, wouldn’t that make our lake(s) more attractive? And shouldn’t we try and promote that.. Like, in a major way!!!?? I’m all for the immediate C&R, but hopefully for the 2015 season some changes could be made that will give the state a chance to further promote our waters to the fullest and not restrict records by a binding rule..

    • Branched Oak is one of the best reservoir flathead catfish fisheries in the country. I believe the big fish swimming around in there is what establishes that fact and mystique. No one says you cannot catch that potential state record flathead from Branched Oak; you absolutely can catch, photograph and release it! And, that will be a bigger story than if it was certified as a state record!

      Daryl B.

      • I know there are big flathead in B.O. I’m a part of the 50lb club and I have buddies that catch enough to drive a person mad! I’m also well aware of the national attention B.O. gets (and that’s just for fishing, not the party cove Area 14) But, I feel having it certified and if it breaks a previous record, that makes our waters even more intriguing! Like you said, people are fascinated by big fish. I’m simply saying, if we miss chances to certify and change records it short sells the lake a little. I understand a person CAN catch a record flattie but something about having the state record certified and in the books would be a pretty sweet story. Besides, all fisherman are liars.. Shoot, I just caught the state record flattie as I’m typing this.. Camera AIN’T working though.. Lol

        • Get a photo! The catch & release of a state record fish, whether it is certified or not, is an even sweeter story!

          Daryl B.

  5. I agree CPR! catch picture release.come on you should know better just saying… nice fish tho

  6. That’s so cool! I understand the argument for returning the fish to the river, but hey, he could have killed it and eaten it instead or had it taxidermied!

  7. there are to many blue cat in the river anyway, they need to be thinned out.

    • Dan,

      Too many blue catfish in the Missouri River??????? They are by far the least abundant catfish in Nebraska’s Missouri River. There is absolutely no need for “thinning”.

      On that subject, why is the fishing in new or “virgin” fisheries so good? “Thinning” or harvesting never occurs on those waters, http://neblandvm.outdoornebraska.gov/2010/01/stunted/.

      Daryl B.

  8. Why does the fish need to be put on display??? Why not make sure it is healthy and return it to the river???

    • Could have done that, but the angler who caught it wanted to know if we wanted to display it in our Ak-Sar-Ben aquarium. Yes, yes we will.

      That big fish will attract a lot of visitors and they will learn a lot about Nebraska’s fish and fisheries resources while they are there!

      Daryl B.

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