Was the Mississippi River Really Home to a Massive 736-Pound Catfish?

Aerial shot of a road along the Mississippi River

Written by Emmanuel Kingsley

Updated: July 19, 2023

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In 2016, RiverBender.com published an article containing images of a 736-pound catfish rumored to have been caught by fishermen in the Mississippi River. This article takes a detailed and factual look into the rumor. Was the Mississippi River really home to a massive 736-pound catfish? Let’s find out.

Was the Mississippi River Really Home to a Massive 736-Pound Catfish?

The rumors about a massive 736-pound catfish caught in the Mississippi river are false.

RiverBender’s article detailed that the catfish weighed in at 736 pounds. This is one of the major loopholes in the claim as the only catfish known to be nearly that size is the Mekong giant catfish. The largest Mekong giant catfish ever recorded weighed 646 pounds. However, this catfish is only found in a few parts of Asia, so there is no chance of them being found in the Mississippi.

Another strike against this rumor is in the image itself. A simple glance at it reveals that it is extremely photoshopped. The “fisherman’s” boots look almost like a cartoon. When compared to images of other large fishes that are actually on the record, this catfish pales greatly.

Our last piece of evidence can be found on Snopes.com, a well-regarded reference site for sorting out myths and rumors. Snopes rates the rumor of the 736-pound catfish as false.

So why did this rumor blow up, you might wonder. The answer is simple: Thousands of tales and myths tell stories of monstrous large catfishes lurking in the depths of the Mississippi. You’d probably believe a rumor if you saw “images” and had heard bedtime stories of them all your life.

In 2016, RiverBender.com published an article containing images of a 736-pound catfish rumored to have been caught by fishermen in the Mississippi River.

What is the Largest Catfish Caught in the Mississippi?

Blue Catfish

The largest catfish caught in the Mississippi was a blue catfish that weighed 131 pounds.

According to the Guardian, the title of the largest catfish caught in the Mississippi belongs to a 131-pound blue catfish caught this very year. Eugene Cronley reeled the “monster catfish” in after a 40-minute tussle and was amazed by its size. He had never seen anything as large!

To quote from the article published in the Guardian, Eugene Cronley “smashed a state record after catching a “monster” catfish weighing in at 131 lbs (59.4 kilograms)”.

Cronley’s catch was officially recorded by The Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks. According to the department officials, his catch broke the record which was previously held by a 101-pound catfish caught in 1997 by two people. Both fishes were caught in the Mississippi River, so if you’re on the lookout for a large catfish of your own, you now know where to get started.

Blue Catfish (Ictalurus furcatus)

Blue Catfish

Blue catfish have soft silvery-blue skins.

Blue catfish get their name from their soft silvery-blue skins. They are large and strong catfish that put up quite a fight when caught on the line. On average, they weigh from 25 to 150 pounds (40-50 kg) and are 24- 65 inches in length. They are the largest fish species in North America.

Blue catfish have barbels which help them sense and find food. They prefer to stay in large rivers with deep channels. The species is considered a tasty delicacy in many parts of the world – they are hunted by humans and several birds.

However, they are not endangered even though females produce only once each year. This is probably because females produce up to 3000-4000 eggs per pound of their body! And since they weigh an average of 100 pounds, each female catfish lays an average of 300,000 eggs per year. In addition, male blue catfishes sometimes spawn multiple times in a year.

Blue catfish are considered pests in several regions. However, they have also been introduced in several rivers and reservoirs. They are known to survive in brackish water, which explains their presence in inland waterways of coastal regions.

What is the Largest Species of Catfish?

Mekong Giant Catfish in Blue Water

The largest species of catfish is known as the Mekong giant catfish.

The largest species of catfish is known as the Mekong giant catfish and is only found in Asia.

Mekong Giant Catfish (Pangasianodon gigas)

The Mekong giant catfish is regarded, not only as the largest species of catfish but also as one of the fish species with the fastest growth rates in the world. They can weigh up to 440 pounds by their 6th year alone. They are born carnivores and feed on zooplankton as babies. However, after a year, they become herbivores and feed on plants.

Although catfish are known for their whiskers, the Mekong giant has no whiskers. It gets its name from its natural habitat, the Mekong River. They are a species in the shark catfish family. Mekong giant catfishes are one of the largest freshwater fish species known to man.

This species is known to live up to 60 years but is considered endangered. This is because they are heavily sought after for food. Although it is illegal to capture, kill, or trade Mekong giant catfish in many parts of Asia, people still do. Not only are they overfished, but the construction of dams often blocks migration routes to their breeding spots. Consequently, they are reported to be just a few hundred catfish left in the Mekong River.

Luckily, efforts have been put into preserving this wonderful species. They are often bred in captivity and then released into the ocean.

What Are The 5 Largest Species of Fish in The Mississippi?

According to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, the Mississippi is home to 119 species of fish. The state caters to its fishes and proudly states that the upper Mississippi is home to “more species than are found in any of Wisconsin’s inland lakes.”

Some of Mississippi’s fishes are recognized for their unusually large sizes. Here are the 5 largest species of fish in the Mississippi. Find out where the blue catfish ranks.

  • Bighead Carp: Bighead carp are known to weigh around 12 to 15 pounds.
  • Paddlefish: On average, paddlefish weigh 40 pounds.
  • Blue Catfish: Claiming the third spot is the blue catfish which weighs an average of 100 pounds.
  • Alligator Gar: Alligator gars sit in second place. They are known to weigh an average of 225 pounds.
  • Gulf Sturgeon: Gulf sturgeons are the largest fish found in the Mississippi. These giant fish can be 9 feet long and weigh up to 385 pounds! That is about the same weight as an adult male gorilla!

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