The Largest Channel Catfish Ever Caught in Arkansas

channel catfish
© Brookieland/

Written by Patrick MacFarland

Published: April 21, 2024

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In a world of records, there are always these competitions carried out to be the best one. When it comes to the world of fishing, there is always a friendly competition to see who can catch the biggest fish. The stories of fishermen claiming they caught fish the size of their entire bodies exist to this day. When it comes to channel catfish, the average size is only about 2-4 pounds, but some out there weigh much more. Let’s take a look at the largest channel catfish ever caught in Arkansas.

About Channel Catfish

The channel catfish Ictalurus punctatus is North America's most numerous catfish species. It is the official fish of Kansas, Missouri Iowa Nebraska, and Tennessee and is informally referred to as

The other record set in Lake Ouachita went to Monte Pascoe in 1997 for catching the biggest skipjack herring in Arkansas.

©Alauddin Abbasi/

Channel catfish are the most abundant species of fish in the United States. They are a blue-gray color with a black back and white stomach. They can live up to 15 years. In terms of size, they average 12 inches and 2-4 pounds, but of course, as we have learned, there are exceptions and outliers. These fish live in North America’s lakes, rivers, and reservoirs.

Largest Channel Catfish Ever Caught

Channel catfish

The record broken by Joe Holleman has not been broken since he did in 1989.

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Drumroll, please! On June 3, 1989, the largest channel catfish ever caught was a whopping 38 pounds. Joe Holleman was the winner when he was all smiles at catching the state’s record. It was a record broken after the biggest one to date had been caught for years prior in 1985.

Holleman went fishing in the upper section of the lake near Muddy Creek. The bait he and his family used was chicken liver and he wasn’t the only successful fisherperson on the boat. A total of 11 catfish were caught, although most of them were only about 3 pounds. Holleman caught the fish at around 3:00 A.M.

Where Was It Caught?

Hammock on rock beach looking at a beautiful sunrise over lake Ouachita

Although 38 pounds is quite big, the world record for the biggest channel catfish was 58 pounds, caught in 1964 in South Carolina.


The largest channel catfish was caught in Lake Ouachita. Located in the center of the state, Lake Ouachita, which is in Lake Ouachita State Park, is actually a reservoir that was created when the Ouachita River was dammed. It is near Hot Springs, AR and it is the largest lake located entirely in the state of Arkansas. The lake has a surface area of 40,000 acres. It also has 690 miles of shoreline and there are 200 islands within the lake. It is also heaven for fishermen looking to catch some delectable fish — largemouth bass, bream, spotted bass, walleye, and catfish all roam around the lake.


And there you have it, the largest channel catfish ever caught in Arkansas was a jaw-dropping 38 pounds. That’s enough to feed a family of six and then have leftovers for days. If you get the chance to visit Lake Ouachita hoping to catch a big one, make sure you also enjoy some water activities besides fishing, like scuba diving or kayaking.

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About the Author

Patrick Macfarland is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering travel, geography, and history. Patrick has been writing for more than 10 years. In the past, he has been a teacher and a political candidate. He holds a Bachelor's Degree in Political Science from SDSU and a Master's Degree in European Union Studies from CIFE. From San Diego, California, Patrick loves to travel and try new recipes to cook.

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