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Angler's giant flathead catfish could shatter record

For The Win logo For The Win 5/29/2020 Pete Thomas

a man holding a fish © Provided by For The Win A Pennsylvania angler, using a trout head for bait, caught a 56.3-pound flathead catfish last Sunday night to set a pending state record for the species.

Jonathan Pierce reeled the monstrous flathead from the Schuylkill River  after it devoured the bait and “took off like a torpedo,” he told the Philadelphia Inquirer. “I had my drag tight, and it was still pulling line.”

Pierce, 34, a father of four from Roxborough, kept the fish alive overnight in a 45-gallon aerated plastic container so it could be weighed Monday on a certified scale. The fish was released back into the river after the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission took measurements.

a statue of a man © Provided by For The Win If Pierce’s record submission is approved by the PFBC – the process can take days or weeks – the catch will shatter the record of 50 pounds, 7 ounces, set in 2019 on the Susquehanna River.

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It’ll also become the largest fish on the PFBC’s list of rod-and-reel fishing records. (As of Friday morning, a 54-pound, 3-ounce muskellunge caught in 1924 topped the list.)

Pierce, who was using a 10-foot rod and baitcaster reel, told Penn Live that he hooked the flathead on his first cast after arriving at his fishing spot at 8:30 p.m.

a man holding a fish in the water © Provided by For The Win The angler, who releases all of the flathead catfish he catches, keeps trout for table fare and sometimes uses their heads as catfish bait.

The giant flathead, after its initial run, swam into a rocky snag and held firm for 2-3 minutes. Pierce loosened the reel’s drag to take pressure off the fish, and it swam free of the rocks, allowing for an easier fight.

Eight minutes later it was netted by Pierce’s girlfriend, and Pierce knew immediately that it was record-size, and took the necessary steps to keep it alive overnight.

He was so excited that he hardly slept.

–Images of pending Pennsylvania-record flathead catfish are courtesy of Jonathan Pierce

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