The Internet was buzzing recently about some big blue catfish caught near Sioux City, Iowa, one which was possibly big enough to be a South Dakota state record.
A story appeared on the Sioux City Journal's web site about a South Dakota angler who caught a 99 1/4-pound blue catfish. His fishing partner, a Sioux City man, landed a 71-pound blue. Apparently, those fish were caught in the Big Sioux River just upstream of its confluence with the Missouri. In large river systems, it's a safe bet those fish spent a least part of their lives, if not most of them, moving in and around the Missouri River. There's a good chance those fish were in Nebraska border water in the Missouri at some time, and maybe most of the time.
The story states that the 99 1/4-pound fish was released after it was weighed.
It would be great to see the current Nebraska hook-and-line blue catfish state record broken. That record has been on the books since 1970, and that fish was taken back when it was legal to take a big blue catfish by snagging. Snagging, of course, no longer is permitted, but there could be some blue catfish swimming in Nebraska’s Missouri River that would break the record. The current record is 100 pounds, 8 ounces. A 107-pound, 12-ounce fish was caught from Nebraska waters last fall when the paddlefish state record fell, and it can be done again. The gentleman from South Dakota has proven it.
One of the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission sampling crews collected a big blue cat from Lewis and Clark Reservoir a few years back. That fish was big enough to be a state record, and it was released back into Lewis and Clark. It may still be out there.
There is time yet this summer to catch a state-record blue cat. Big blues actually are more active later into the year in colder water than flatheads and even channel cats. Late fall, early winter would be a prime time to catch a state-record blue. That fish is out there, somewhere, waiting. Are you brave enough to go get it?
Daryl Bauer is the outreach program manager in the Game and Parks' Fisheries Division. Contact him at 402-471-5008 or email@example.com. Read his blog, Barbs and Backlashes, at OutdoorNebraska.org.