An angler in Mississippi reeled in a massive, record-breaking catfish a week ago near Natchez. Eugene Cronley, the fisherman from Brandon who nabbed the monster 131-pound catch, said the fight took him forty minutes to tire the fish out.
What makes the story even more amazing is the gap between the old and new weight records since the catch. Typically, new size records improve upon old marks by a pound or two; maybe five pounds in a really special circumstance. Fish can only grow so big, after all. But Cronley’s huge fish shattered the old Mississippi state catfish record by an incredible 30 pounds.
Even more incredibly, according to the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks Fisheries Bureau, Cronley also obliterated the rod-and-reel record of 95 pounds set in 2009.
Cronley, who caught the blue catfish with skipjack herring as bait, said of the experience, “it is truly a fish of a lifetime.”
Interestingly enough, the former trophy blue catfish record also hailed from the same part of the Mississippi River near Natchez. So if you’re looking to feed a church congregation on a Friday fish fry, be sure to give that fertile stretch of the mighty Mississippi a visit.
A few thousand miles west of Mississippi catfish country, another lucky angler reeled in an eye-popping catch in Idaho
Something is in the water in America right now, because a 12-year-old fisherman also caught an incredible sturgeon on the Snake River recently. The massive fish measured nine feet, 11-inches, which put it among the largest fish ever caught and released in the state.
Young Tyler Grimshaw fought and landed the prehistoric species while fishing with his father, Lance, and local guide Joe Weisner. According to Weisner, Tyler is a seasoned angler even at his age.
“Lance is actually a fishing guide on Flaming Gorge,” Weisner said. “So we kinda go back and forth. I’ll go up with him and fish for a couple days and vice versa. And Tyler has come down to fish with me numerous times. That kid has probably caught 100 sturgeon on his own by now, but he’s always looking for that bigger fish, you know.”
To catch the mighty sturgeon, Tyler used a standard sliding rig and drifting fresh-cut bait along the bottom of the river. A short rod also allowed him to really pressure the fish, too. Luckily, he hooked the record catch in a deep pool with minimal current, which gave the young man some extra leverage to tire the fish out.
“Tyler sat on that rod and pumped that fish for 50 minutes. He wasn’t about to hand that rod over to nobody,” Weisner said. “The fish jumped a total of four times. It jumped once right next to the boat, maybe two feet away. It was terrifying.”
Sturgeon is a protected species in Idaho, so Tyler had to release his trophy while it still lay in the shallow water. But he certainly has a story for the ages.