Man Catches West Virginia State Document Blue Catfish

Angler Steven Value, of Lancaster, Ohio, shattered the West Virginia blue catfish state document with a 67.22-pound fish on Wednesday. Together with his catch, he topped a document that was set simply 8 weeks in the past.

An avid catfisherman for years, Value has not too long ago targeted his efforts on fishing the Ohio, Tennessee, and James Rivers. He usually fishes with buddies and most frequently with longtime catfishing companion Marcus MacDonald, however on the morning of Could 25, he determined to take pleasure in a solo journey on the Kanawha, an Ohio River tributary, together with his Labrador retriever, Daisy. “I needed to go on my own to get away and simply benefit from the quiet,” Value tells Subject & Stream. “It was the primary time I’ve ever even achieved that on the river.”

Value was utilizing reduce shad for bait. His first fish of the day felt like a monster flathead, however the fish broke his line on a snag. Value was feeling down. “I made a cellphone name to Marcus and instructed him what occurred, and the way I used to be a bit bummed out,” he says. “However I stated, ‘Okay, earlier than I transfer to the following spot, I’m gonna re-rig these rods and provides it one other quarter-hour.’ I put my rods again out and fairly quickly one bent. As quickly as I picked it up, I might inform it was one other actually massive fish.”

Simply minutes after dropping one monster, Value had one other one within the boat—a 56-pound blue cat, a brand new private finest. After taking a photograph, Value returned the blue to the water and once more began dialing his buddies, telling everyone about his success. He was speaking to 1 pal when one other rod dipped. “I decide it up, and I’m immediately preventing it,” Value says. “It’s one other massive one. Now, this doesn’t even appear actual anymore. That is a type of days everyone desires of taking place.”

He was fairly certain he had a blue catfish on as a result of the fish was swimming towards the floor, in contrast to flatheads, which are inclined to dig towards the underside when hooked. He noticed the water boil up behind the boat and caught a glimpse of the fish’s tail. It was massive—and he thought it may very well be even larger than his first one.

Value needed to navigate eight traces within the water whereas preventing the brute. “The fish reduce throughout 4 traces,” he says. “Usually, I’ve acquired a companion there to assist however not this time. I needed to weave beneath all these rods on my own whereas holding onto the fish. I lastly acquired him near the boat, and I appeared again for the online.” 

That’s when worth realized he hadn’t reattached the deal with to the online after eradicating it to weigh the 56-pound blue. “So, I used to be sitting there holding onto this fish with one arm and reaching again to assemble the online with the opposite,” Value recollects, laughing. Ultimately, he was in a position to put the online again collectively and maneuver the catfish’s tail into it. He caught a break when the large blue flipped backward whereas attempting to flee and inadvertently swam headfirst into the online. As Value tried to raise it into the boat, he says “The fact sank in that I had an absolute monster. I struggled to get him over the facet and onto the deck.”

Value Made Positive to Maintain the Fish Alive In the course of the Weigh-In

man slings large catfish over shoulder
Value’s fish was West Virginia’s second document blue cat in two months. Steven Value

Value’s on-boat scale confirmed over 70 kilos, together with the online. Value once more began making calls. With MacDonald’s assist, he was in a position to find a neighborhood fisherman, Todd Anderson, who had an 80-gallon stay properly with an oxygen tank in his boat. He additionally made contact with Ryan Bosserman, a fisheries biologist for the West Virginia Division of Pure Sources (WVDNR). Bosserman set out instantly to satisfy Value on the Leon boat ramp, whereas Anderson drove to the river, put his boat in, and drove 15 miles upriver to satisfy Value and switch the catfish to his stay properly. Within the meantime, Value had secured his internet to the facet of the boat and was drifting downriver with the fish within the internet, stopping at times to fireplace up his motor briefly with the intention to pace up his progress.  

“It’s implausible that the biologist and everyone might get on the market so quick,” Value says. “One of the necessary issues to me was ensuring the fish stayed alive. From the time I caught him to after we launched him was round an hour, and he was within the water most of that point. He kicked like a mule and swam off actual sturdy on the discharge. If somebody had hooked him after that, they’d have had one other struggle on their arms.”

The WVDNR has confirmed that Value’s catch has been licensed as the brand new state document for blue catfish for each weight and size at 67.22 kilos and 50.7 inches lengthy. It topped the earlier document, a 61.28-pound blue caught and launched on the Kanawha by Cody Carver on April 8, 2022, by practically 6 kilos. The state document earlier than that had stood untouched since 2016.

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“My intestine tells me that this document might be gonna maintain for some time,” Value says. “But when it acquired broke at present, I’d congratulate the man. I’d be completely satisfied for him, as a result of it simply exhibits that our catfish are getting massive. They’re rising. I do assume there are larger fish in there, however most likely not many.”

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