TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – An angler from Santa Rosa county smashed a state record when he reeled in the largest flathead catfish ever caught and recorded in the state of Florida, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) said in a press release.
Lavon Nowling was fishing on the Yellow River when he hooked the 69.9-pound fish. The fish was 48.5 inches long with a girth of 38.25 inches.
“I’ve caught some good ones before this fish, but none of them were more than 54 pounds,” said Nowling. “I’ve been fishing since I was old enough to hold a pole and have been fishing on Yellow River as long as I can remember.”
Nowling brought the catch to the FWC’s Blackwater Hatchery near Holt, and had biologists verify its size.
The fish broke the previous record by 0.6 pounds. The previous record of 69.3 pounds was set by Marvin Griffin on the same river last year.
“A state record catch is a once in a lifetime achievement for an angler,” said Jon Fury, FWC’s Director for the Division of Freshwater Fisheries Management. “We are pleased to award this state record to Mr. Nowling.”
Flathead catfish are a nonnative fish found in the river basins of the Gulf of Mexico. They can reach a length of 3 to 4 feet and their weight can exceed 100 pounds.