RALEIGH, N.C. (July 10, 2023) – The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission has certified a new channel catfish state record. On May 21, 2023, Justin Hall of Reidsville reeled in a 27 lb. 7 oz. channel catfish, from a local farm pond near his home in Rockingham County, breaking the previous record of 26 lbs. caught in the Neuse River, July 2021.
Hall has been fishing this pond for years, but rarely caught channel catfish from it. Until May 2023, when his 13-year-old son caught, what he estimates to have been, a 25+ pounder. They returned it to the water, unaware of the record held at that time. “I told a friend about my son’s catch, and he told me it might have been big enough to beat the state record,” said Hall. A week later, using bread dough as bait and his Big Cat Fever Casting Rod and Zebco Big Cat XT reel, he got the record-breaker. “My wife went down to the waterline to bring it in with the net – and it bent the net.” The fish measured 36 1/4 inches long and 24 7/8 inches in girth.
To qualify for a N.C. Freshwater Fish State Record, anglers must catch the fish by rod and reel or cane pole. The fish must be weighed on a scale certified by the N.C. Department of Agriculture and witnessed by at least one observer. It must be identified by a fisheries biologist from the Commission and the angler must submit an application with a full, side-view photo of the fish for record certification.
For anglers who catch a catfish that doesn’t quite measure up to this latest record-breakers but still meet minimum size and length requirements, the Commission has catfish classifications for its North Carolina Angler Recognition Program (NCARP). 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 the late, renowned wildlife artist and former Commission fisheries biologist, Duane Raver.
For a list of all freshwater fish state records in North Carolina or more information on the State Record Fish Program, visit the Commission’s State Record Fish program webpage.