Milton angler lands record flathead
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Media contact: Stan Kirkland, 850-265-3676
Milton resident Eric Auston Jr. now holds the distinction of
having landed the largest flathead catfish ever caught with a rod
and reel in Florida waters.
Auston, who is 33, was fishing with his good friend Brandy
Wallace Oct. 9 at 2:30 a.m. in the Yellow River when he caught a
flathead catfish weighing 55.05 pounds. He used a rod and reel with
25-pound-test line and a small bluegill as bait.
His fish was substantially larger than the existing Florida
record flathead - a fish that weighed 49.39 pounds, caught in the
Apalachicola River in 2004. Auston said he fishes for flatheads
only a few times each year. His biggest flathead prior to last
weekend weighed 42 pounds, but that fish was caught on a bush
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC)
maintains records for most species of freshwater fish. The FWC will
present Auston with a certificate of his record catch for
State record fish must be legally caught in Florida, identified
to species by a fishery biologist, and weighed on a certified
scale. Auston said he was especially grateful to the FWC for its
efforts to get the fish certified.
Anglers can also participate in the Big Catch angler recognition
program. Anyone who catches a fish above the minimum qualifying
weight for that species can submit a Big Catch application.
Information about the
State Record and Big Catch programs is available
Flathead catfish are not native to the eastern United States. In
the 1970s, they made their way to one southeastern state after
another. First identified in the Apalachicola River in 1982, they
are now found in every Panhandle river from the Ochlockonee River
west to the Florida-Alabama line. They are significant predators
and should be harvested when caught. There are no bag or size
limits on flatheads in Florida, and they are good for eating.
In Midwestern waters, flatheads are native. The world record is
a 123-pound monster caught in Kansas in 1998, according to the
International Game Fish Association. Fisheries
biologists expect flatheads may eventually grow close to that size
in Florida waters.