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Monster blue catfish weighs 110-plus pounds, river version of Hogzilla

By David Pendered

Weighing in at 110 pounds, 6 ounces, the new record holder for the largest blue catfish ever caught in Georgia measures 58 inches long with a girth of 42 inches. It’s the aquatic version of Georgia’s Hogzilla, the monster hog shot in 2005.

The record blue catfish caught by Tim Trone, of Havana, Fl. is nearly 5 feet long and just over 110 pounds. Credit: Georgia DNR

The fish is five times the weight of the biggest typical blue catfish. It was pulled from the Chattachoochee River south of Columbus, the city known for attracting huge crowds to jump into the Chattahoochee River for rafting and kayaking adventures.

Hogzilla, said to be 1,000 pounds when he was shot south of the Ocmulgee River, roamed the banks of a river popular with rafters and kayakers and others who like to get in rivers.

Tim Trone, of Havana, Fl. caught the fish Oct. 17 on line with a hook baited with cut bream. Trone was fishing in the local Chatt Kat Tournament that’s a popular get-together on Lake Eufala, also known as the Walter F. George Lake.

This catfish was more than 17 pounds heavier than the previous record, according to a statement from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.

Two important aspects about the catch are that it was caught with a hook, not by hand, and that it’s a blue catfish, not some other relative.

Catching a fish with bare hands is an entirely different endeavor from catching a fish on a hook. One word for barehanded fishing is noodling. Hillbilly Handfishing is the name assigned by the Animal Planet TV show, which filled a page on the show’s website with video of fish caught with bare hands.

DNR provided this handy primer on catfish varieties, which explains why this record blue catfish is so unique:

  • “Blue catfish (Ictalurus furcatus) are one of several types of catfish found in Georgia.  The list also includes channel catfish, flathead catfish, white catfish and brown, flat, snail, spotted and yellow bullheads.  Blue catfish are a silvery blue color and have a “humped” back, forked tail and small eyes.  As with other catfish species, they also can be identified by their lack of scales and the “cat-like” barbels on their mouths that look like cat whiskers. While they can reach weights over 100 lbs., 1-20 lbs. is typical for Georgia.  They like fast water in large rivers, reservoirs and tributaries.”

The record blue catfish caught by Tim Trone, of Havana, Fl. weighed 110 pounds, 6 ounces and is thought to be 23 years old. Credit: Tim Bonvechio via Georgia DNR

Trone hooked the record catfish upriver from Lake Eufala, near the town of Omaha, in Stewart County, according to DNR’s statement.

This being an era of data mining, state scientists went to work on the fish to discover what they could. They determined the creature was about 23 years ago through a forensic process described by a DNR spokesperson as such:

  • “We obtained the otoliths (commonly known as “earstones” – these are hard, calcium carbonate structures located directly behind the brain of bony fishes) from the fish. This allows us to age the animal and see how old it was. Working on finding out that info now. Our biologist said he reviewed them yesterday, but wanted to re-check them again today to see if he came to the same conclusion.”

The verdict on final results observed:

  • “Our fisheries biologist said the fish was approximately 23 years old.”

Scientists with National Geographic went through an ever more elaborate review to determine whether Hogzilla was fact or fiction. The filmed an episode of the NG show with scientists exhuming Hogzilla and deciding the hog was, in fact, a hog, and though it didn’t didn’t measure in at the 1,000 pound, 12-foot critter of legend, it did weigh in at 800 pounds and nearly 8 feet long, according to a report by nbc.news.


David Pendered

David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with more than 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written for print and digital publications, and advised on media and governmental affairs. Previously, he spent more than 26 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and won awards for his coverage of schools and urban development. David graduated from North Carolina State University and was a Western Knight Center Fellow.


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