Illinois Angler Catches, Releases Potential State Record Flathead Catfish


Have you ever seen a flathead catfish this big? James Klauzer, who caught the massive fish from Sangchris Lake in Illinois last week, said it was the biggest he’s encountered in the state—and it may edge out the Prairie State’s current flathead record.

The fish weighed a whopping 81.4 pounds, surpassing a 78-pound flathead caught by Jody Harris from Carlyle Lake almost exactly 20 years ago.

“Jim Klauzer stopped in last night to pick up a little tackle, little did he know he would be the new record holder for Illinois FlatHead catfish!” wrote Big Red’s Bait and Tackle on Facebook. “Congratulations Jim.”

The bait shop’s owner, Trevor Miller, told the Chicago Sun Times that Klauzer had dropped by on Friday for some hooks and swivels, and returned the next day with a behemoth of a flathead. Miller directed the angler to Midstate Meat Co. in Springfield, where a crowd of witnesses had already gathered. Dan Stephenson, assistant fisheries chief with the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), was present to certify the record.

Hauling the massive flathead while keeping it comfortable was no easy task. Klauzer intended to release the fish back into Sangchris Lake as soon as possible. Fortunately, Midstate Meat Co. owner Paul Donelan had just the right thing for it: a deer sled. After heaving the fish onto the sled, the assembled crowd weighed the fish and Stephenson certified its weight. All that is left now is for the DNR to officially recognize the record and enter it into its record-keeping system.

After the flathead was released, Klauzer took some time to thank his fellow anglers and everybody who helped him to certify the fish.

“Because of all of you this amazing experience was documented from beginning to end in photos and video. Without all your effort and time, most of you to help a stranger, this would not have been as perfect as it was,” he wrote on Facebook. “Thank you for making this experience the best it could possibly be. In my mind you all share this record with me.”

You can see video of the weigh-in and release below:

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