Marine Corps Veteran Hauls in North Carolina State Record Channel Catfish

by Jon D. B.

“You don’t need fancy gear or a fancy boat to catch a trophy fish,” says the Marine Corps veteran and new NC catfish state record holder.

With a 26-pound channel catfish, U.S. Marine Corps veteran Taner Rudolph of North Carolina’s Onslow County is now a state-record-holding angler!

Rudolph, a Hubert resident, brought in the large cat in the middle of the night, July 17. There, he fished well after midnight on the Neuse River’s riverbanks outside Kinston, and eventually caught his prize.

“Once I hooked into him I knew it was a big one, but I was thinking that it was just a big blue cat or a flathead,” Rudolph says of the more common catfish species to local JDNews. “I didn’t ever think that I’d be catching the state record channel.” 

But catch it he did. Thankfully, Rudolph had a few friends on hand to help him get the large cat onto the bank after a 15-minute fight and almost losing the fish. All by the stoke of 2 a.m.

While Rudolph isn’t keen on revealing the location in which he snagged his trophy, he does tell JDNews the angle took place “under a bridge.” Apparently, the water level was “higher than normal,” as well. Make of that what you will, North Carolinian anglers!

A positive identification as a channel fish would follow the next day via the  North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission. The commission’s confirmation set Rudolph as the new record holder at 26 pounds, 38 5/8 inches long and 22 3/4 inches in girth.

The previous record, which stood for over 50 years, was broken in 2020, before being bested again by Rudolph.

It’s a Great Year for North Carolina Catfish Anglers

Rudolph, a Kansas native, left the Marine Corps in 2020. Now, fishing is a source of relaxation and therapy for the veteran. He tells JDNews it’s the most effective way for him to combat depression and anxiety.

Rudolph sees himself as an everyman, too, and encourages boatless fishermen to get out there and take advantage of available resources.

“I’ve learned that Google Maps and YouTube are my biggest friends when it comes to catfishing,” he offers.

“You don’t need fancy gear or a fancy boat to catch a trophy fish. You just need a little luck with a lot of knowledge on where these guys like to hang out and to put in the work,” he adds in a Facebook post for his record-breaking catfish.

Earlier in 2021, another North Carolina fisherman shattered a state record. His catfish, however, was 100-lbs heavier at a remarkable 127-pounds. As a blue catfish, the considerable difference in size makes sense. Rocky Baker’s champ was caught on the Roanoke River using gizzard, also in July.

“Congrats to Rocky Baker of Four Oaks for breaking the state’s blue catfish record on July 10,” posts the NC Wildlife Resources Commission. “Baker caught his 127-pound 1-ounce blue catfish on the Roanoke River using a Mad Cat rod and Penn Squall reel with gizzard shad. The fish measured 60 inches long and 40 1/4 inches in girth.”

Congrats to both gents!