John Nichols shattered the Alabama blue catfish record with a 120-pound, 4-ounce fish. Nichols, who lives in Tuscaloosa, caught the behemoth from Holt Reservoir on March 9, 2012. He used a chicken gizzard on a large circle hook and managed to land the beast using 40-pound fishing line.
Jay Haffner, District Three Fisheries Supervisor for the Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries (WFF), certified the new record on Saturday March 10, 2012. The previous blue catfish record of 111 pounds was caught by William P. McKinley from Wheeler Reservoir in 1996. At that time, McKinley’s blue catfish was a world record. The current world record for blue catfish is 143 pounds caught from Buggs Island Lake, Va.
Procedures for certifying a state record include weighing the fish on certified scales with witnesses and having the species confirmed by a WFF or certified fisheries biologist. The fish must be caught legally, including the possession of a valid fishing license, if required. Alabama rules state that if a fish weighs less than 25 pounds, the new record must be two ounces more than the existing record. For fish weighing more than 25 pounds, the difference must be at least one-half of a percent more than the existing record. Otherwise, the records tie. The complete rules and applications are available from WFF offices or www.outdooralabama.com.
The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR) promotes wise stewardship, management and enjoyment of Alabama’s natural resources through five divisions: Marine Patrol, Marine Resources, State Parks, State Lands, and Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries. To learn more about ADCNR, visit www.outdooralabama.com.
Photo: John Nichols with his record catch, a 120-pound, 4-ounce blue catfish.