WAYCROSS — A day of fishing is good. A day you catch a new state record – and beat the old one by more than 12 pounds – is great!
Richard Barrett is now state the record holder for the blue catfish. His catch, weighing 93 lbs. even, beat the previous 2010 record of 80 lbs., 4 oz., according to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division.
Barrett of Axson hooked his record blue catfish on the Altamaha River on Oct. 14, using a live channel catfish he caught earlier in the day as bait. The record fish was caught on the edge of a deep hole, and the angler told WRD staff that he was shocked when he got it to surface and thought there was no way he was going to get the fish in boat. WRD fisheries biologist Tim Bonvechio aged the fish at 14 years, which indicates a good growth rate.
"It is always good news when I hear about someone catching a new state record fish in Georgia as it continues to show me how many great fishing opportunities are out there," John Biagi, chief of WRD fisheries, said. "This is our first state record of 2017, and I hope it ignites a fire in all new and experienced anglers to get outdoors and go fish Georgia!"
Blue catfish (Ictalurus furcatus) typically are bluish-gray above, fading to white on the sides and belly, and do not have spots. They have a deeply forked tail, an overhanging upper jaw, pale chin whiskers, and an anal fin with a long straight margin. They are most similar to channel catfish, which often have spots, have dark chin whiskers, and a curved margin on the anal fin. They are native to the Coosa River basin; and introduced in the Chattahoochee, Flint, Ocmulgee, Oconee, Altamaha, Satilla, and Savannah River basins.
Anglers looking to fish on the Altamaha River can find helpful information on the WRD website at georgiawildlife.com/fishing-prospects.
Anglers must have a current Georgia fishing license to fish in public waters. Buy licenses online, find a list of retailers at georgiawildlife.com/licenses-permits-passes or by phone at 1-800-366-2661.
By buying a license as well as fishing equipment and related items, you and your fellow anglers help fund sport fish restoration programs, thanks to the Sport Fish Restoration Act. The act allows funds accumulated from a federal excise tax on gear and related items to be directed to activities that benefit recreational anglers. A portion of these funds is provided to the Georgia DNR based on several factors, including the number of paid sporting licenses. Sport fish funds make the following activities possible: managing sport fish populations, raising freshwater fish in hatcheries and stocking them in public waters, maintaining and operating public fishing areas and building boat ramps, and much more!
Information about state-record fish, including an application and rules, can be found at georgiawildlife.com/fishing/recordprogram/rules or in the current Sport Fishing Regulations Guidebook.