For the second time in less than two years, the state has a new record for the biggest flathead catfish.
Dale Blakley of Niles caught it on Sunday, January 12, while ice fishing on Barron Lake in Cass County.
“Catching this fish was the most exhilarating experience,” said Blakley. “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 fish weighed in at 52 pounds and measured 46.02 inches, breaking the previous state record set in May 2012 of 49.8 pounds and measured 45.7 inches. Prior to that, the record hadn't been broken since 1943.
“We’ve had numerous state records broken in the last couple of years, further showcasing the quality of Michigan’s fisheries,” said DNR Fisheries Division Chief Jim Dexter. “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!”
It should be noted that flathead catfish typically inhabit large river systems, like the nearby St. Joseph River. Based on the size of this fish, it mysteriously found its way to Barron Lake several years ago, perhaps through illegal stocking as there are no direct connections to a large river system. Anglers are reminded that transferring fish from one water body to another is prohibited because such transfers can disrupt the fish community in the receiving water through predation, competition with native species, or introduction of new disease-causing organisms.