Lifelong angler ‘can’t believe’ he reeled in whopper catfish, breaking Florida record

September 1, 2020 by No Comments

A lifelong angler experienced the “catch of a lifetime” after he reeled in a record-breaking flathead catfish from the Yellow River in Santa Rosa County, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) announced in a news release.

Lavon Nowling used live bait to catch the nearly 70-pound catfish, setting a Florida state record.

“I’ve caught some good ones before this fish, but none of them were more than 54 pounds,” said Nowling, according to the release. “I’ve been fishing since I was old enough to hold a pole and have been fishing on Yellow River as long as I can remember.”

The catfish, which was weighed by biologists at the FWC’s Blackwater Hatchery, came in at 69.9 pounds and measured 48.5 inches long with a girth of 38.25 inches.

“I’ve been deep sea fishing to creek fishing and I never expected to catch a state record fish,” Nowling said. “That day I was fishing for channel catfish and can’t believe I caught a huge flathead. I was in the right place at the right time.”

The solitary lifestyle of the flathead makes them more of a challenge to catch, the FWC says. The fish prefer long, slow-flowing rivers.

“A state record catch is a once-in-a-lifetime achievement for an angler,” said Jon Fury, FWC’s Director for the Division of Freshwater Fisheries Management. “We are pleased to award this state record to Mr. Nowling.”

The previous state record for a flathead, which was caught in the same river in 2019, was 69.3 pounds and 38.25 inches.

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