Outdoors: Blue catfish record falls twice

May 2016

If Zakk Royce’s experiences are any indication, Lake Gaston holds some monster blue catfish.

The Murfreesboro angler caught not one but two state record blue catfishes in a 24-hour period last December.

The first fish, caught on Dec. 20, weighed 91 pounds and measured 53 inches in length. On Dec. 21, Royce landed his second state record, a 105-pound blue, measuring 55.75 inches in length. He caught both fish using cut white perch for bait.

Catfish record

Zakk Royce shows off the new state record blue catfish he caught at Lake Gaston. Photo courtesy of Zakk Royce.

Both fish were weighed on certified scales at Ace Hardware in Littleton and examined and identified by District 3 Assistant Fisheries Biologist Evan Cartabiano. After the fish were weighed Royce released them back into the lake.

The previous blue catfish state record was set back in 2006 by Eric Fincher of Mount Pleasant, who caught a blue catfish weighing 89 pounds from Badin Lake on Nov. 25. He, too, released the fish back into Badin Lake after it was certified as the state record.

To qualify for a N.C. Freshwater Fish State Record, anglers must have caught the fish by rod and reel or cane pole, have the fish weighed on a scale certified by the N.C. Department of Agriculture, witnessed by one observer, have the fish identified by a fisheries biologist from the Commission, and submit an application with a full, side-view photo of the fish.

For anglers who catch a blue catfish that doesn’t quite measure up to this latest record-breaker but is 41 inches or longer or weighs 30 pounds or more, the Commission has a blue catfish classification for its North Carolina Angler Recognition Program. NCARP officially recognizes anglers who catch trophy-sized freshwater fish that do not qualify for a state record with a certificate featuring color reproductions of fish artwork by renowned wildlife artist and former Commission fisheries biologist Duane Raver.