Colorado Angler Crushes State Flathead Catfish Record


On January 19, Tony Chavez pulled in a 27-pound, 3.68-ounce flathead catfish from a basin below Colorado’s John Martin Reservoir. Lured in by chicken livers, this giant catfish weighed nearly twice that of the state’s previous record, which was caught in Pueblo Reservoir back in 2011. Officials from Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) have recognized Chavez’s fish as the new state record by a landslide.

“We are really excited for Tony and for John Martin Reservoir,” said, Jim Ramsay, CPW Aquatic Biologist, in a press release. “It is gratifying to see a fish of this size caught in southeastern Colorado. This fish was taken from the stilling basin below John Martin Dam which means the fish escaped from the main reservoir during water releases.”

Experts added that they would not be surprised to see anglers pull in even larger catfish. Flatheads are notoriously voracious carnivores, going so far as to be considered an invasive species in some areas. They are far from picky eaters, a trait which has enabled them to reach gigantic proportions. In North America, flatheads are second in size only to blue catfish and can grow to weigh more than 100 pounds.

“Flathead catfish have tremendous growth potential,” stated Colorado officials. “Fish weighing well over 50 pounds are common in the midwestern states. The angling world record for flathead catfish is more than 120 pounds. CPW aquatic staff have sampled several large flatheads at John Martin in recent years, so this record may be broken again in the near future.”

John Martin’s population of flatheads came through trades with Arkansas, and were stocked between 1994 to 2009. Although stocking has since stopped, biologists continue to see catfish in the reservoir and believe the species is now self-sustaining. Flatheads are known for being very adaptable and are popular with anglers because of their great taste and large size.

According to records kept by the International Game Fish Association, the world record flathead weighed a neat 123 pounds. That massive fish was caught by Ken Paulie from Elk City Reservoir in Kansas back in 1998.

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