By now many Nebraska anglers may have seen the photos of a big blue catfish that was recently caught. I fired up my computer this morning and saw this.
I have said before that there have been darned few verified catches of triple-digit fish from Nebraska waters, so any catch like that is a notable catch! I have spent some time today trying to run down more details, and so far have not been able to find out much more. But, since this has generated so much interest, I will tell you what I know right now.
That is a blue catfish, it was caught from the Missouri River near Niobrara, Nebraska. I believe it was caught last Friday, August 2. No, I do not know what bait it was caught on, but I do know it was caught on a set line. The fish was not weighed on certified scales but on the scales on which it was weighed, it weighed 104 pounds! If that weight was accurate, and if that fish had been taken on rod & reel, it would have beat our existing blue catfish rod & reel state record of 100 pounds 8 ounces.
I have not received permission to publicize the name or names of the anglers involved in the catch, so there really is not a whole lot more that I can tell you.
I will tell you that one of our fisheries research crews sampled a 108-pound blue catfish in a gill net on Lewis & Clark reservoir 6 years ago.
That fish was released after the picture was taken back in 2007. I wonder if it might have been the same fish? If it swam upstream out of Lewis & Clark it would have been in the area where this huge fish was recently caught.
I can also tell you that the fish caught last week was released after it was weighed. Now I know what many are thinking, especially after looking at the picture–that fish may not have survived the handling and weighing. However, let me tell you that we have had a number of huge blue catfish on display in our Ak-Sar-Ben Aquarium, http://outdoornebraska.ne.gov/fishing/programs/aquaticed/aquarium.asp . I can tell you that at least one of those big blues, a fish that weighed over 80 pounds, was donated by a couple of anglers who had caught it on a set line and then hauled it around town for awhile (they had to show it off!) before bringing it to the aquarium. That fish was NOT hauled in a tank, but simply covered with some wet towels/gunny sacks. There were doubts about the survival of that fish, but it not only survived, it was on display at the aquarium for several years after that.
All I know is that those anglers released the fish, they at least gave it a chance to survive. It may still be swimming in those waters and I would love to see someone catch it, or another blue catfish in excess of 100 pounds and establish a new state record! The rod & reel state record blue catfish we have on the books now was a fish that was snagged; was taken at a time when it was legal to catch those fish that way. I would love to have someone catch a bigger one on a bait, hooked in the mouth. I believe a blue catfish like that is swimming in our waters, in the Missouri River, right now!