PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — A Pennsylvania man reeled in a new state record flathead catfish.
Jonathan Pierce, 34, of Philadelphia caught the monster 56 pound fish on May 24 according to the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission.
Pierce was fishing from the bank of the Schuylkill River at East Falls when he hooked into the catfish.
“The best way to describe it is like a torpedo,” said Pierce, who was accompanied by his girlfriend, Angelina Wilson, who witnessed the catch. “In all the years I’ve been fishing for flatheads, the fish did something I had never seen. It surfaced, and then ran away from me into a pile of rocks and just stuck there. It was panic mode.”
Pierce said he eased tension on his rod and released several feet of slack from his line, hoping the fish would believe it had been freed.
It worked and the catfish started swimming again.
After a five-minute fight, Pierce landed the catfish, with Wilson helping to net the fish and lift it up the river wall.
“My previous biggest catch was 37 pounds and this one made that one look small,” said Pierce. “It just had so much girth to it. When I tried weighing it on my digital scale, the scale malfunctioned. A friend brought a larger scale that showed the fish weighed around 57 pounds. At that point, a night of fishing turned into a dash to get this thing officially weighed. The whole time, I wanted to keep it alive.”
Not able to find an operational certified scale, Pierce kept the catfish alive in a 40-gallon aerated container until the next day.
On May 25, Pierce took the fish to Blue Marsh Outdoors in Berks County where it was officially recorded as weighing 56 pounds, 3 ounces.
While the fish measured 50 inches long with a girth of 28.875 inches, Pennsylvania state record fish are judged only by weight, and must exceed the previous record by at least two ounces.
The previous record was 50 pounds.
After weighing the fish, Pierce returned the catfish alive to the Schuylkill River.
“I consider it the catch of a lifetime,” said Pierce. “I do think the record will be broken again soon, probably from the Susquehanna River. The one piece of advice I would give to others going after the record is to have a plan once you catch the fish. It takes a lot of work and it’s stressful, but it was worth it.”