The fish was caught by Rodney Akey of Niles, Mich., at 8 p.m. Tuesday, May 22, on the St. Joseph River in Berrien County, the fish weighed 49.8 pounds and measured 45.7 inches. Akey was still-fishing from shore with an alewife when he landed the record fish.
“It only took about 15 minutes to catch this fish or to get it to bite, but it took about a half hour to land it. We were pretty excited about it, I’ve caught a lot of big ones, but nothing that big,” Akey told WWJ 950′s Marie Osborne, later adding, “We just bugged our eyes out of our heads, I said ‘I think we’ve got a state record here.’”
The record was verified by Scott Hanshue, a DNR fisheries biologist, at the DNR’s Plainwell office.
The previous Michigan state record catfish was caught by Elmer Rayner of Hastings, Mich., on the Maple River in Ionia County on Aug. 6, 1943. That fish weighed in at 47.5 pounds and measured 44 inches.
“I’ve been fishing catfish on the St. Joseph River for the last 20 years, but it never crossed my mind that I would catch a state record,” said Akey. “And beating a nearly 70-year record – that’s a feat in itself!”
State records are recognized by weight only. To qualify for a state record, fish must exceed the current listed state record weight, and identification must be verified by a DNR fisheries biologist.