Richard Clinton of Dade City, Florida broke a nearly 20-year-old state record when he reeled in a 7.02-pound brown bullhead on February 12. According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), Clinton and his cousin were fishing in an unnamed lake in Pasco County when the massive catfish appeared.
“I was surprised at how strong the fish pulled once I hooked it,” Clinton said. “It fought harder than a seven-pound bass I also caught.”
The angler was not expecting a spirited battle, although brown bullheads have been described as scrappy fighters. The catfish usually only weigh only one or two pounds on average, and Clinton’s catch was mere ounces away from the world record.
“I knew I had a big fish,” Clinton said. “I’m glad I was recognized for catching a state-record brown bullhead.”
Clinton landed the catfish after it took his live minnow in 32 feet of water. Knowing that such a large fish had to be in the running for some kind of record, the angler called FWC freshwater fishery biologist Eric Johnson. The very next day, Johnson certified the fish as a new state record. The official measurements for the bullhead came in at 22.25 inches in length and 15.5 inches in girth. Clinton’s catch blew away the old state record, which was previously held by Robert Bengis with a 5.72-pound catfish caught in 1995.
Not unsurprisingly, Clinton’s fish also rivaled the world record, which was a seven-pound, six-ounce bullhead caught by Glenn Collacuro. According to the International Game Fish Association, that record was landed in New York’s Mahopac Lake on August 1, 2009.
Brown bullheads can be found across North America and while not as popular as some other species of catfish, it can be very delicious if properly prepared. In Europe and some parts of the Western United States, however, the brown bullhead is considered an invasive species.
Image courtesy Paul Thomas/Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission