Discover The Largest Flathead Catfish Ever Caught in Texas

Catfish, Fish, Mississippi River, Underwater, USA
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Written by Nixza Gonzalez

Updated: July 28, 2023

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Texas is a great spot for anglers that love fishing! This large southwestern state has great fishing lakes, ponds, marshes, and marine piers. One of the most common sports fishing fish is the flathead catfish. While they typically weigh between 5 to 50 pounds, you can find many flathead catfish close to 100 pounds. Can you guess how heavy the largest flathead catfish ever caught in Texas is? Follow along to find out!

The Largest Flathead Catfish Ever Caught in Texas

The largest flathead catfish ever caught in Texas weighed an impressive 98.50 pounds and was 53 inches long. James Laster caught this almost 100-pound beast in Lake Palestine on December 2, 1998. He holds the record for the largest overall flathead catfish ever caught and the largest caught by rod and reel. For this impressive catch, the angler used a minnow/crappie hook.

The largest flathead catfish ever caught in Texas by fly fishing though was 49.50 pounds. This massive fish measured 43 inches long. Robert Davis on March 9, 2004, caught this large catfish in Tawakoni with a fly rod.

Flathead Catfish

James Laster caught the largest flathead catfish in Texas in 1998.

About Flathead Catfish

Flathead catfish are large catfish known by several names including the Mississippi cat, yellow cat, and mud cat. They are popular game fish that are loved for their challenging nature. Flathead catfish are strong. You need a sturdy reel to catch these large and powerful cats. Flathead catfish aren’t just popular for their strength and challenge, but also their flavor. They are protein heavy and filled with many types of vitamins.

Size and Description

As the name suggests, flathead catfish have flat heads. These large fish have smooth, scaleless skin and thick large bodies. They are great hiders because of their mud-like skin. Flathead catfish are brown or olive green with a mottled pattern. However, young flathead catfish before reaching maturity are dark, almost entirely black. Like other catfish species, they have whisker-like barbels. Despite their dark coloration and markings, flathead catfish have pale yellow or white bellies.

Now that we know what they look like, let’s dive into their size. Flathead catfish are about 3 to 4 feet long, however, they can grow longer. For example, the largest flathead catfish caught in the world was a little over 5 feet long! These fish are also heavy. On average, they can weigh anywhere from 15 to 50 pounds, however, flathead catfish weighing over 100 pounds isn’t uncommon.

Flathead catfish, isolated on white background

Flathead catfish can weigh over 100 pounds. However, most only reach about 15 to 20 pounds.

Diet

Flathead catfish aren’t picky eaters, however, their diet does slightly change as they age. For instance, young flathead catfish mainly feast on insects and crayfish. However, as they grow, flathead catfish expand their diet and almost entirely consume fish. Popular fish they eat are sunfish, small bass, and suckers.

Predators

You can imagine that with how big flathead catfish get, they don’t have many predators. Instead, young flathead catfish are vulnerable to predator attacks. Common flathead predators are American alligators and other larger fish species. Catfish aren’t picky and will hunt other smaller catfish. Humans are another frequent predator.

Distribution

Flathead catfish are native to many parts of North America. Their native range is massive and they’ve been introduced to other parts of the continent and the world. The native range of a flathead catfish includes the lower Great Lakes and the Mississippi River Basin. The flathead catfish is a resilient species that adapts quickly to different environments. It is an invasive species in the Chesapeake Bay.

The Largest Flathead Catfish Caught in the World

While the largest flathead catfish caught in Texas is impressive, it’s still about 30 pounds shy of beating the world record. On May 19, 1998, Ken Paulie caught a monstrous 123-pound flathead catfish at Elk City Reservoir in Kansas. Not only did it weigh well over 100 pounds, but this massive flathead catfish was 61 inches long. This means it was over 5 feet long! The girth of this world-record flathead catfish was 43 3/4 inches.

To catch this large fish, Ken Paulie used a Zebco rod with a live minnow as bait. He also used a strong 14-pound Trilene monofilament fishing line. At first, Ken Paulie wasn’t sure what he caught. However, as the large fish tugged roughly, he guessed it was a big fish. Not only is his catch the largest flathead catfish ever caught but also one of the largest catfish in the world!

Flathead catfish

The largest flathead catfish in the world weighed 123 pounds and was a little longer than 5 feet.


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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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