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PLAINWELL, Mich. — It took less than two years for a state angler to break the record for a catfish caught.
The new state record flathead catfish was caught on Jan. 12 by Dale Blakley of Niles on Barron Lake in Cass County. He was ice fishing for crappies when he landed the fish weighing 52 pounds and measuring 46.02 inches.
The record fish was verified the next day by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources fisheries biologist Brian Gunderman. State records are recognized by weight.
It broke the record flathead catfish caught by Rodney Akey, also of Niles, on the St. Joseph River in Berrien County on May 22, 2012. That fish weighed 49.8 pounds and measured 45.7 inches.
Before that fish was caught, the record stood since 1943.
“Catching this fish was the most exhilarating experience,” Blakley said in a DNR news release. “It was only the second time I’ve ever gone ice fishing and it was the only bite we had on the lake the whole day. This definitely sits at the top of my list.”
The DNR release said that flathead catfish typically inhabit large river systems and based on its size this one got into Barron Lake several years ago, likely through illegal stocking. Transferring fish from one water body to another is prohibited because it can disrupt the fish community through predation, competition with native species and introduction of new disease-causing organisms.
“We’ve had numerous state records broken in the last couple of years, further showcasing the quality of Michigan’s fisheries,” Jim Dexter, DNR fisheries division chief, said in the release. “We hope this latest catch encourages anglers to get out on the water in search of their own state record — or at least a great adventure.”