The Largest Flathead Catfish Ever Caught in Oklahoma

A close up look inside the large mouth of a catfish held open by the fisherman. A catfish has a mouth that is turned downward because they are bottom feeders. Bokeh effect.
© Picunique/Shutterstock.com

Written by Nina Phillips

Published: April 19, 2024

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There are over 177 species of fish in Oklahoma, with around 13 of them being catfish. However, most of the catfish species are rather small, and they can fit in the palm of your hand, as they usually are in between 3 and 7 inches in length. They’re not all that small, though. Fishers get lucky in Oklahoma and catch some rather big monsters on occasion. The flathead catfish is one such beast, and there’s a pretty impressive record to beat when t comes to the largest flathead catfish ever caught in Oklahoma.

If you want to lear more about flathead catfish, and the fisher who hold the record, continue reading below.

About Flathead Catfish

Flathead catfish

This is a good example of what the average flathead catfish looks like from the side.

©Duane Raver / Public domain – Original / License

Flathead catfish, also known as Pylodictis olivaris, are one of the few species of catfish you’ll come across in Oklahoma, along with channel and blue.

Appearance

The common name, flathead catfish, is used because this species has a flatter head than other species. However, other than that, they’re pretty similar to other catfish. They have smooth skin without sales, whiskers around the mouth, and long spines on either side of the pectoral fin and one on the back fin.

They also have forked tails and long bodies. Sometimes these fish are called mud catfish, shovelhead catfish, or yellow catfish. Flathead catfish are generally anywhere between pale yellow to olive in colors, with dark brown or black spots.

Habitat

Like most catfish, flatheads usually stay at the bottom of whatever body of water they inhabit. They are often found in larger bodies of water, including large impoundments and streams.

They prefer parts of the water that are covered, such as under overhanging banks, submerged logs, deep holes, and brush.

They’re a popular fish amongst anglers. They’re fairly easy to catch, with most being taken via trotlining, limblining, noodling, or juglining.

Size

Flathead catfish are pretty hefty animals. It’s common enough to find some that reach over 100 pounds. Most are between three and four feet long.

The Largest Flathead Catfish Ever Caught in Oklahoma

A medium sized brown  colored flathead catfish fish being held horizontally by a smiling man in a dry suit over a net on a river

The largest catfish on record is much bigger than the one shown above.

©M Huston/Shutterstock.com

Oklahoma’s Department of Wildlife Conservation keeps two sets of records for their fish. The first is the fish caught with a rod and line, and the other is fish caught in any other legal way.

The department has a record for flathead catfish caught in both of these categories. Using a line and rod, the largest flathead catfish measured 51 inches in length and 36.5 inches in girth. It weighs 78 pounds and 8 ounces. Richard Williams caught the fish in El Reno Lake on May 11, 2010.

While this is impressive, the flathead catfish captured as part of the unrestricted record is much bigger. This one was measured at 60 inches long and with a girth of 39.5 inches. However, the weight is what’s more impressive, with the catfish weighing 106 pounds.

This catfish was caught with a trotline in Wister Lake, by someone only known as C. Clubb. The catch has held the record for a few generations, with the channel catfish caught on April 5, 1977.

Largest Flathead Catfish Ever Caught

Lake Eufaula sunset, Oklahoma, USA

Lakes like this are a great place to search for catfish, especially if there’s a lot of debris at the bottom.

©JohnDSmith/Shutterstock.com

While the largest flathead catfish caught in Oklahoma is impressive, it is still rather lacking compared to the world record flathead. This one was also found in the United States, specifically in Kansas.

The beast was caught on May 19, 1998 by a man named Ken Paulie at Elk City Reservoir. The flathead channel catfish measured 43.75 inches in girth and 61 inches long. It weighed a crazy 123 pounds

Based on records, that catfish above could be the second-largest catfish ever caught, regardless of species. The number one was a blue catfish caught in 2011 that weighed 143 pounds.


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About the Author

Nina is a writer at A-Z Animals, FIDIS Travel, and Giant Freakin Robot. Her focus is on wildlife, national parks, and the environment. She has been writing about animals for over three years. Nina holds a Bachelor's in Conservation Biology, which she uses when talking about animals and their natural habitats. In her free time, Nina also enjoys working on writing her novels and short stories. As a resident of Colorado, Nina enjoys getting out in nature, traveling, and watching snow hit the mountains from her enclosed porch.

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