WAYCROSS, Ga. — Carl Sawyer of Screven (Wayne County) had more than just a great day of fishing on the Altamaha River on June 22, 2006. He caught a new state record flathead catfish.
The big fish weighed 83 lbs. 0 oz., and was 54 inches long, surpassing the old state record for a flathead catfish of 67 lbs. 8 oz. also caught on the Altamaha River in 2000.
“As Carl Sawyer can tell you, it’s nice when you catch the ‘big one’ that you actually have the evidence to back it up,” said Georgia Wildlife Resources Division Fisheries Management Chief Chuck Coomer. “We hope that the recognition of this new state record will inspire experienced and novice anglers to get out and fish at any one of Georgia’s numerous lakes and rivers. You might not catch a new state record, but odds are you will still have a great day of fishing and enjoying the tremendous natural resources of this State.”
Flathead catfish (Pylodictis olivaris), also known as appaloosa cats, are one of several types of catfish found in Georgia. The list also includes channel catfish, blue catfish, white catfish and yellow and brown bullheads.
Flathead catfish, as one might expect, have a head that appears “flattened,” they are a yellowish color mottled with brown and green and their lower jaw extends beyond the upper jaw. They have an unforked tail and very small eyes and as with other catfish species, they also can be identified by their lack of scales and the “cat-like” barbels on their mouths that look like cat whiskers.
They can reach weights up to 100 lbs., although less than 30 lbs. is typical for Georgia. They like deep, murky pools with some current and rocky, rubble-bottom areas with holes. The best bet for catching a flathead is by using live bait, such as minnows, chubs, crayfish or sunfish.
Information about state record fish can be found on the WRD website at www.gofishgeorgia.com or in the Sport Fishing Regulations Guidebook available at all WRD offices and all license agents. In order for a catch to be recognized as a state record, anglers should follow these steps:
Make plans now for your fishing trip, and don’t forget to introduce someone new to fishing! For more information about fishing opportunities in Georgia, visit the WRD website at www.gofishgeorgia.com or call a WRD Fisheries Management Office.