Big cats! • Nebraskaland Magazine

My friend and co-blogger Greg Wagner did a great blog post about catch and release again last week. I know a lot of people see his “stuff”, but I want to spread it around more. So yeah, again I’m lazy, Greg has already done the work, all I do is suggest you follow the link and read it!

Free the big catfish unharmed


Greg does a great job explaining why it is important to release fish, especially larger fish. It is even more important to the Nebraska catfish species because they are among our slowest growing sport fish. Channel catfish, blues, and flat-headed catfish are all warm-water fish, no doubt about that. They are able to reach large sizes in Nebraska waters if given the opportunity, but it takes decades for those fish to reach “cup” size in a northern state like Nebraska. Harvest one, and replacing that fish can take a long time.

Fortunately, very large catfish can be released. With proper care and catch and release techniques, rich catfish can be fished, released, “recycled” and fished over and over again. High quality fish catch can be produced and maintained by releasing large fish, especially large catfish.

This is especially important given the report of a huge blue catfish caught and released last weekend. . . .

WesPufferBlueCat August 2022 B
Wes Puffer Pictures. Thanks Wes!

WesPufferBlueCat August 2022 A

Wes Puffer has been catching and releasing some huge catfish this summer. He’s been catching those fish from the Missouri River from a kayak!

This blue cat he caught last weekend probably weighed over 100lbs! This is a short video of one weighing a fish. Note the excellent handling of the fish!

Could this fish break the current record in sticks and reel for blue catfish? Yes, I think it could be very good. I have noticed more than once that blue catfish have been caught in recent years and I think it would have been new state records. However, none have been verified as they must be balanced on approved scales in order to qualify as a state registry. To do this, it likely means that the fish will not be releasing. The fishermen who caught these big blues believe it is more important to release those fish rather than claim a record. My hat goes to all of them! I did well! Your sportsmanship and care for the supplier are commendable! If Wes Puffer wants to claim the unofficial catch record and release the blue catfish case record, he can!

Let me finish by noting that our rod-and-reel case record for flathead catfish was only broken two years ago. The fisherman who did that also released that fish! He was willing to transport a catfish of this size into a large tank in the back of a pickup truck. By doing so, he was able to transport the fish to certified scales and meet all state registry certification requirements. It’s possible, it can be done, and once again a big thank you to those fishermen shooting those big fish!

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