After the required 30-day waiting period, the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) has officially recognized a 102.8-pound blue catfish as a new state record. Rob Stanley, of Olathe, caught the fish, which bests the former state record blue by more than 8 pounds.
When Stanley hooked into a blue catfish while fishing the Missouri River on August 11, he was pretty sure it was bigger than most he’d caught. Stanley had taken a 70-pounder from the Kansas River earlier in the summer, and this fish was showing his heavy tackle surprising power as it bulldogged in the big river’s muddy current.
After a 40-minute battle that required pulling anchor to follow the fish downstream and prevent it from taking all of Stanley’s 80-pound-test line from his reel, Stanley and his boat partner, Brad Kirkpatrick, realized the fish wouldn’t fit in their over-sized net. They wrestled the monster fish into the boat and immediately weighed it on a digital scale. When it “bottomed-out” the 100-pound scale, Stanley and Kirkpatrick knew they had a special fish.
After calling KDWPT fisheries biologist Andy Jansen, Stanley kept the big cat in an aerated tank near the river. After weighing the fish on certified scales and species confirmation by Jansen, Stanley released the fish back to the Missouri River.
Stanley caught the new state record blue catfish at 5 a.m. using cut bait (Asian carp caught from the river). The fish was 56.75 inches long and had a girth of 39 inches.
Blue catfish are native to eastern Kansas rivers, and there are historical records of fish weighing more than 100 pounds. However, interest in catching blue catfish has been growing in recent years after Kansas biologists began stocking them into reservoirs. Milford Reservoir, near Junction City, received its first blue catfish stocking in 1990 and has gained a reputation for producing blue cats weighing more than 50 pounds. Some anglers believe the next state record is already swimming in Milford. Other reservoirs stocked with blue catfish include Tuttle Creek, El Dorado, Clinton, Perry, Melvern, Wilson, Cheney, John Redmond, Kanopolis, Lovewell and Glen Elder. It’s too early to tell if blue cats will thrive and grow in other reservoirs the way they have in Milford, but if they do, anglers better hang on to their rods.
Image courtesy Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism