Discover The Largest Channel Catfish Ever Caught in Arizona

channel catfish
© Brookieland/

Written by Nixza Gonzalez

Updated: April 23, 2023

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Arizona is a popular fishing destination for worldwide anglers, especially because some of their catfish records are very impressive! Whether you are visiting Arizona to enjoy the sights and nightlife in Phoenix or going on a camping trip out near a vibrant lake, there are plenty of fishing opportunities. A common fish in Arizona’s lakes and rivers is the channel catfish.

This large catfish is docile, and it’s the official fish for many states including Tennessee, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska. Are you ready to learn more about this unique fish? Keep reading to also discover the largest channel catfish ever caught in Arizona.

About Channel Catfish

Channel catfish

Channel catfish are very popular fish and reach impressive lengths and weights.

©Aleron Val/

Channel catfish are native to North America. It is often referred to as a channel cat. They are the most fished catfish species in the United States since their populations are stable. Channel catfish isn’t just caught for recreation, but also for food. Because of its introduction to the rest of the world, including Europe, South America, and Asia, it’s legally considered an invasive species in some countries.

Size and Appearance

Channel catfish are grey and white with large eyes. They are very popular fish and reach impressive lengths and weights. Anglers are excited when they find channel catfish between 10 to 20 pounds, however, some of the larger catches can weigh past 50 pounds. The average channel catfish though is only 2 to 4 pounds and 12 to 24 inches long.


Channel catfish are not picky eaters, and they are bottom feeders. They eat mostly small fish and insects, crustaceans, and young birds. The smaller a channel catfish is, the smaller its prey. For example, juvenile channel catfish are omnivorous feeders, consuming both plants and small animals. Channel catfish also eat dead animals and leftovers.


It’s a lot easier for larger animals to eat young and small-channel catfish. Their most common predators are larger fish like the chestnut lamprey and the flathead catfish. To avoid being caught by larger fish, channel catfish create their dens in hidden places like enclosed cans and under overhangs.

The Largest Channel Catfish Ever Caught in Arizona

blue catfish vs channel catfish

The state of Arizona has different divisions for the largest channel catfish caught.

©Jennifer White Maxwell/

Arizona has great state records for fish caught. The state record for the largest channel catfish ever caught in the inland waters hook and line division weighed 33 pounds and 5.76 ounces. Carson Pete caught this large 39.5-inch catfish in Upper Lake Mary on March 26, 2017.

Another amazing Arizona record is the largest flathead catfish. This type of catfish usually grows longer and weighs more. Eddie Wilcoxson caught a 76-pound and 8.64-ounce flathead catfish on April 13, 2013, in Bartlett Lake. It measured 53.5 inches long.

The largest channel catfish ever caught in Arizona’s catch and release division was 37 inches and it was also caught in Upper Lake Mary by Carson Pete. However, he caught this massive catfish on May 3, 2020. In the Colorado River waters, hook and line division, Wando L. Tull from Barstow California caught the state’s largest channel catfish. He reeled in a 35-pound and 4-ounce catfish in 1952. It was 38 inches long and came from Topock Marsh.

The Largest Channel Catfish Ever Caught in the World

While Arizona’s record for the largest channel catfish is impressive, it’s not the largest found in the world. The largest channel catfish ever caught in the world was 58 pounds. An angler on July 7, 1964, in the Santee-Cooper Reservoir in South Carolina caught this massive fish. For over six decades it has reigned as the largest channel catfish catch. Florida’s largest channel catfish comes close weighing about 44 pounds.

Common Fish in Arizona

Arizona is a great state for fishing and other outdoor recreational activities. There is a lot you can do when visiting the state. If you are interested in spending time outdoors and seeing nature, you should visit some of Arizona’s most beautiful parks.

The most stunning national park in Arizona is Grand Canyon, National Park. While most people don’t know this, you can fish in tributaries within Grand Canyon National Park, but always look at the required licenses before going.

Anglers travel far to look for large species of fish. Common aquatic animals in Arizona are turtles and fish. You can find the following fish in almost any body of freshwater in the state:

  • Largemouth Bass
  • Brown Trout
  • Brook Trout
  • Apache Trout
  • Artic Grayling
  • Crappie
  • Blue Gill
  • Bigmouth Buffalo
  • Northern Pike
  • Rainbow Trout
  • Walleye
  • Striped Bass

Where is Upper Lake Mary Located on a Map?

Lake Mary is the name given to two separate reservoirs located in the northern region of Arizona, which are situated southeast of Flagstaff. The name Lake Mary may refer to both of these reservoirs collectively or individually. These two lakes are situated upstream from Walnut Canyon and are formed by impounding the intermittent Walnut Creek.

Here is Upper Lake Mary on a map:

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About the Author

Nixza Gonzalez is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering topics like travel, geography, plants, and marine animals. She has over six years of experience as a content writer and holds an Associate of Arts Degree. A resident of Florida, Nixza loves spending time outdoors exploring state parks and tending to her container garden.

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