Oftentimes, Stephen Price of Lancaster is affected by depression in a big way.
Price, a 33-year-old fisherman who has been pursuing a plus-sized blue catfish for some time, has been fishing on the Kanawha River in West Virginia on the morning of May 25, a promising day marked by partly cloudy skies, light breezes, and high waters.
Accompanied by his dog, Price thought it remarkable, having landed on two unremarkable flatheads, he caught three stray fish not far from the Kanawa Confluence of the Ohio River opposite Gallipolis.
The first, whom Price said did “pretty much what he wanted,” fought like a wild flathead, until he swam safely into an obstacle, ending the struggle. Not long after that, the blue grabbed the lump of shadows bait and grabbed a hook, a net, and weighed more than 50 pounds, then released it.
“It was a big fish, but it wasn’t a state record,” Price said. “I wasn’t really thinking I’d catch a third big fish.”
But only a short time later, Price found himself grappling with the second huge blue. This fish, which was raised on the deck of the ship, looked distinctive. And it was.
Price, who runs a home checking business, weighed the fish twice to make sure he didn’t misread the scale, which showed 67 pounds, a record that would be an official record if suspended.
Blue went into his boat’s tunnel, and after a quick phone call, Price moved into a stream at the site where a friend of his was waiting for him with an oxygen tank.
The two drove to an approved scale run by a wildlife official. This official verified the fish’s weight at 67.22 pounds and a length of 50.7 inches. The catch and catch photos were taken, and the blue was released.
It turns out that Price’s catfish outperformed more than one West Virginia sharpshooter who scored 61.28 pounds from a blue caught seven weeks earlier.
Ohio’s record has been a whopping 96 pounds since Chris Rolfe of Williamsburg took this 54 1/2 inch beast from the Ohio River on June 11, 2009. Price said he and his fellow fishermen have taken many big blues and blues. Ohio, mostly from Portsmouth upstream to Ravenswood, West Virginia.
However, Price is skeptical that “anyone would catch another 96 pounds blueberries.”
Predominantly a southern fish that prefers flowing water, conditions far north do not favor extremes when it comes to blues. The world record, a 143-pound blue catfish that measures approximately 57 inches in length, was taken from Virginia Lake in 2011.
In the past, the species was a somewhat irregular inhabitant of the Ohio River and its tributaries. Dams that help regulate the depth of the water to allow the movement of boats impede the movement of fish from their strongholds in the Mississippi River Basin.
Most of the blues music that is discovered in Ohio and West Virginia is the product of storage programs. The Buckeye State Registry shows why the Ohio Department of Wildlife saw potential in the species as a sporting fish.
Rolfe blue outshines the flat-headed Ohio record by nearly 20 pounds, and is a true native with a charm based on his massive size. Flat head case tag 76 1/2 lb.
Only a few North American freshwater fish — alligator fish, paddlefish, and some sturgeon — grow heavier than blue catfish.
Hoover Reservoir has been receiving a batch of blues music since 2011 with encouraging results. Hugs registered 40 inches and 40 pounds.
The Department of Wildlife currently encourages Hoover hunters to report any blues they catch.