Discover The Largest Blue Catfish Ever Caught in Indiana

Blue Catfish
M Huston/Shutterstock.com

Written by Hailey Pruett

Updated: May 9, 2023

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As the largest species of North American catfish, the massive and majestic blue catfish is highly sought-after by anglers. Indiana, particularly the southern region of the state, is smack-dab in the middle of this species’ native range.

As you might expect, the blue catfish is one of Hoosier State’s most popular game fish. But what is the largest blue catfish ever caught in Indiana? How does it measure up to the national record?

Read on to find out, as well as some interesting facts about the species, its average size, and much more.

Get to Know the Blue Catfish

Blue Catfish

Blue catfish is the largest species of catfish in North America.

Before we take a look at Indiana’s largest blue catfish, it’ll help to get a better understanding of the species. Taxonomically known as Ictalurus furcatus, this unique fish is an exceptionally hardy and adaptable animal.

The first part of its scientific name, Ictalurus, is Greek. It refers to its genus and loosely translates to “fish cat.” The Ictalurus genus consists of all 10 species of North American freshwater catfish. “Furcatus,” the second part of its name, is Latin and refers to a particular species. It translates to “forked,” for the fish’s distinctly forked tail fin.

As part of the Ictalurus genus, the blue catfish is also related to species like the channel catfish and the Paluca catfish. It is the largest member of the group as well as the largest member of its entire family, Ictaluridae, which consists of 51 species.

True to its common name, its body is a uniform grayish-blue in color. While it looks superficially similar to the channel catfish, the blue catfish has more rays, a forked tail, barbels, and a larger upper jaw. Its barbels, or whiskers, are sensory organs that it uses to seek out food.

As a highly opportunistic predator, the blue catfish eats about anything it can fit into its large, wide mouth. Unlike many other catfish species, however, they are not bottom-feeders. They prefer eating crawfish, frogs, and mussels, as well as various smaller species of fish and aquatic insects. Because of their unique diet, they don’t tend to have the typical “muddy” taste of other catfish.

How Big Do Blue Catfish Get?

As we briefly covered earlier, the blue catfish is an absolutely massive fish! It’s the largest member of both its genus and species, making it the largest out of more than 50 different kinds of catfish. Its long, wide, bulky body can weigh anywhere from 80 to 150 pounds on average when fully grown. Length-wise, it can measure 25 to 25 inches from its nose to the tip of its tail. 

Due to its enormous size, the blue catfish has unfortunately become a bit of a pest in many areas. For example, it has become invasive in Virginia, where it tends to over-hunt other native fish species. It is even large and strong enough to eat fully mature Asian carp, another rather heavy-bodied species that can weigh up to 90 pounds!

Another factor is its ability to tolerate a wide range of habitats, including brackish coastal waters. Its lifespan is also very long at around 20 years, and it is a highly efficient predator. Thanks to these traits, blue catfish are perfectly suited for eating unusually large prey that other species of fish tend to avoid. What’s more, they eat around 3 to 5% of their total body weight each day.

What is the Largest Blue Catfish Ever Caught in Indiana?

Blue catfish

The largest blue catfish ever caught in Indiana weighed 104 pounds.

Like most US states, Indiana’s Department of Natural Resources keeps track of local fishing records for a wide range of popular game fish. According to their current records, the largest blue catfish ever caught in Indiana was a whopping 104 pounds! The angler responsible for this incredible catch is Bruce Midkiff. He caught the fish in the Ohio River in 1999, meaning his record has been unbeaten for over two decades and counting! 

When he landed this once-in-a-lifetime catch, Midkiff was fishing with a live skipjack herring as bait. The skipjack herring is notable for being one of the most ideal types of bait for catching catfish, particularly the blue catfish. The herring’s skin secretes a large amount of oil that anglers believe is very appetizing to blue catfish.

It’s also worth noting that the Ohio River is a prime spot for catching blue catfish. The species tends to prefer very large rivers with fast-moving currents. At 981 miles long, the Ohio River flows through or along the borders of six total states, including Indiana’s southern border. Its largest tributary is the Tennessee River.

What is the Largest Blue Catfish Ever Caught in the World?

Indiana’s largest blue catfish record is absolutely impressive. But how does it compare to the current world record? Well, Midkiff’s catch is actually about 39 pounds shy of the largest specimen in the world. According to the International Game Fishing Association, the largest blue catfish ever caught was an astonishing 143 pounds! 

The angler who managed this amazing catch, Nick Anderson, established the world record for the species on June 18, 2011. He caught the 143-pounder at John Kerr Reservoir located near the Virginia-North Carolina border. In addition to being Virginia’s state record blue catfish, it’s also currently the largest specimen ever caught worldwide.

As far as its other measurements go, the fish was 57 inches long and had a girth of 47 inches. Just three days after Anderson’s catch, the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries officially certified the specimen as the new state record. It was later established as the current world record by the IGFA.

Where is the Ohio River Located on a Map?

Stretching 981 miles through the United States, the Ohio River runs along the boundary of the Midwestern and Southern regions, flowing southwest from western Pennsylvania until it reaches its mouth at the southern end of Illinois where it meets the Mississippi River.

Here is the Ohio River on a map:


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About the Author

Hailey "Lex" Pruett is a nonbinary writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering reptiles and amphibians. They have over five years of professional content writing experience. Additionally, they grew up on a hobby farm and have volunteered at animal shelters to gain further experience in animal care. A longtime resident of Knoxville, Tennessee, Hailey has owned and cared extensively for a wide variety of animals in their lifetime, including cats, dogs, lizards, turtles, frogs and toads, fish, chickens, ducks, horses, llamas, rabbits, goats, and more!

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