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Teenager sets state record for blue catfish catch
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Fifteen-year-old angler Tyler Dodson of Carrollton (Carroll County) reeled in the new state record blue catfish from a private 18-acre neighborhood lake on Dec. 24, 2007.

According to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division (WRD), Dodson’s 75-pound, 49-inch catch trumps the former state record by more than seven pounds. The previous record weighed in at 67 pounds, 8 ounces and was caught in 2006 from the Chattahoochee River (below Columbia Lock and Dam) by James Franklin Tyus of Brinson (Decatur County).

Dodson’s catch was unusual because blue catfish are typically a big water species, found primarily in large rivers. WRD Fisheries Management biologists initially thought that someone might have transplanted the fish into the lake as an adult, making it ineligible for the state record.

This spurred WRD personnel to investigate the origin of the fish before officially declaring it the new state record.
“We investigated this fish carefully before declaring it the new record because we wanted to be fair not only to Tyler, but also to the catfish angling community that targets exceptionally large fish,” explained WRD’s Chief of Fisheries John Biagi.

Based on extensive research, WRD was able to declare the catch a new state record for a number of reasons. The lake where the fish was caught was built approximately nineteen years ago and stocked with juvenile catfish. WRD sent a sample from the record-breaking fish to an environmental lab for ageing and discovered that the fish in question also was approximately nineteen years old.

Also, according to WRD biologists, there was no evidence that the fish was transplanted. There were no physical indications the fish had been moved from another water body, and an investigation into the diet of the fish revealed no river species were recently consumed.

Biologists also indicated that though blue catfish of this size have not previously been documented from small lakes, research showed that such growth is not impossible.

Thus, although the catch was unusual, there is no just reason to question its legitimacy, and Dodson now holds the state record catch for blue catfish.

“It is always exciting for anyone to reel in a state record catch and the anticipation revolving around Tyler’s catch, and his young age, makes it even more exciting. This reminds us that Georgia is such a fantastic place for anglers because there are numerous fishing opportunities and resources available, from big rivers and reservoirs to small neighborhood lakes,” Biagi said.

Blue catfish (Ictalurus furcatus) are one of the largest species of North American catfish. The world record of 124 pounds was caught in the Mississippi River in May 2005.

They have a slate blue back fading to white on the belly, and their lack of body spots differentiates them from channel catfish.

As opportunistic predators, they feed on crayfish, mussels, frogs and virtually anything else that is available. Blue catfish are distributed throughout the Mississippi River drainage system, living primarily (but clearly, not exclusively) in large rivers.

Information about state record fish can be found at or in the current Sport Fishing Regulations Guidebook.

A recent national survey indicated that 87 percent of Americans believe fishing and boating have a positive effect on family relationships. So, pack up the family and the fishing gear and create an exciting new family tradition.