Catfish in West Virginia just keep getting bigger. The state record for blue catfish was bested for the fourth year in a row on Dec. 8, 2023. Angler Michael John Drake, of St. Albans, West Virginia, caught and released his 69.45-pound blue from the Ohio River to beat out the previous record by more than 2 pounds.
Drake’s big blue measured 50.51 inches in length. He caught it on cut shad on the R.C. Byrd Pool of the Ohio River in a stretch near Gallipolis that forms the state’s western border with Ohio. Drake’s new record was inspected by West Virginia DNR hatchery manager Ryan Bosserman before release.
West Virginia keeps state records for both length and weight. While Drake’s fish outweighs the previous record of 67.22 pounds, caught by Steven Price from the Kanawha River in May of 2022, it is not quite as long as Price’s fish. With a length of 50.7 inches, Price still holds the length record by less than two-tenths of an inch. Drake holds the new weight record.
If Price or Drake had registered their fish with the International Game Fish Association, both would have beaten the existing IGFA world length record for blue catfish. That record is held by Eric Maurer, who caught a 122-centimeter (48.03-inch) from Tennessee’s Chickamauga Lake back in 2011. The IGFA all tackle world record, by weight, was also caught in 2011. Richard Anderson’s incredible 143-pounder was caught in June of 2011 at Kerr Lake, Buggs Island, Virginia.