The Largest Flathead Catfish Ever Caught in Wisconsin Was the Size of a Foxhound

Flathead catfish
© M. Huston/

Written by Claire Wilson

Published: March 13, 2024

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Also known as a mudcat or shovelhead cat, the flathead catfish is a North American freshwater catfish species. It is the second-largest kind of catfish found in North America. Inhabiting lakes and slow-moving rivers, fishermen consider the flathead catfish as the tastiest catfish. Thus, it is the most popular catfish to fish. Sports fishermen use rod and reel, limb lines, or “noodling” (using your bare hands and arms to catch the fish) to capture flathead catfish. However, you won’t believe the size of the largest flathead catfish ever caught in Wisconsin.

About Flathead Catfish

Flathead catfish

Other nicknames for the flathead catfish include: yellow catfish, mud catfish, shovelhead catfish, and Mississippi catfish.

©stammphoto/ via Getty Images

As you can guess, the flathead catfish’s name comes from its broad and flat head. Olive in color along its sides and back, this catfish is highly mottled with dark brown and black blotches. The belly is white or yellowish cream-colored. With smooth, scaleless skin, flathead catfish have tiny eyes and a protruding lower jaw. Lastly, whisker-like barbels hang from its mouth, which helps the flathead catfish locate food along the bottom of the river or lake.

They can be found in the lower Great Lakes through the Mississippi River watershed and the Gulf states.

Typical Size of a Flathead Catfish

Flathead catfish, isolated on white background

Flathead catfish can grow to be double the weight of an American Foxhound.

©Rob Hainer/

Flathead catfish can live up to 28 years, so these fish can grow to impressive sizes. On average, adult catfish will grow three to four feet long. Since these catfish are omnivores, their diet is very flexible, consuming insect larvae, mollusks, crayfish, worms, and other fish. This means that flathead catfish can grow quite large, many exceeding over 100 pounds!

Largest Flathead Catfish Ever Caught in Wisconsin

Flathead Catfish

The largest catfish ever caught in Wisconsin was about five times as heavy as a bowling ball!


On March 30, 2001, the largest catfish ever caught in Wisconsin was hooked in Vernon County. Fisherman Stan Hogensick of Lynxville reeled in this monster catfish from the Mississippi River. It was 53 inches long and weighed a whopping 74 pounds and 5.1 ounces.

Largest Flathead Catfish Ever Caught

Two flathead catfish on bottom of the river floor.

The world record for the largest flathead catfish ever caught was 61 inches long–about the height of Danny DeVito.


Ken Paulie caught the largest flathead catfish ever while fishing at Elk City Reservoir, Kansas. On May 19, 1998, Paulie reeled in a 123-pound flathead! This hulking fish was 61 inches long and 43.75 inches wide.

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About the Author

Claire Wilson is a writer at A-Z Animals where her primary focus is on reptiles, travel, and historic places and landmarks. Claire holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Writing from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, which she earned in 2010. A resident of Wisconsin, Claire enjoys hiking, visiting parks, and biking nature trails.

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