GALLIPOLIS FERRY, W.Va. — For the fourth year in a row, the West Virginia state record for the largest blue catfish by weight has been broken.
According to the W.Va. Division of National Resources, Michael John Drake of Saint Albans, West Virginia, caught and released a blue catfish that weighed 69.45 pounds and measured 50.51 inches.
Drake was fishing using cut shad from his fishing boat on the Robert C. Byrd Pool of the Ohio River on December 8 when he caught the record fish, which state hatchery manager Ryan Bosserman measured.
Steven Price held the previous record blue catfish of 67.22 pounds and 50.70 inches.
The blue catfish (Ictalurus furcatus) is a relatively large North American catfish, reaching 65 inches and weighing 165 pounds. It can live for 20 years, and its native distribution is primarily in the Mississippi River drainage, including the Ohio and Missouri.
The blue catfish are often misidentified as channel catfish. Blue are heavy-bodied, blueish-gray, and have a dorsal hump. To tell the difference between a blue and a channel is to count the rays on the anal fin. A blue has 30 to 36; a channel has 25 to 29. Blues also have barbels, deeply forked tails, and protruding upper jaws.
Anglers who believe they have caught a potential record-breaking fish should report their catch to the division for verification. Fish not qualifying as a state record may still qualify for a trophy citation. For more information, visit wvdnr.gov/fishing/state-records.
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