The International Game Fish Association is the premier record-keeping fishing organization in the world. The IGFA regularly shares a list of "hot catches," highlighting pending world record fish. Their most recent release included Cleveland angler Eric Maurer.
"Catfish fans, take note: A 32-year-old record, and the oldest current standing record for blue catfish ... is being challenged," said a prepared statement from IGFA.
Maurer was fishing Chickamauga Lake when he landed a potential 80-pound line class record for blue catfish, a species for which he has already achieved five world records, but most on 130-pound line class. Maurer was fishing with cut skipjack herring on March 15 when the 83-pound monster hit. After a 15-minute fight, Maurer had the fish subdued. He quickly took the necessary measurements and photos before releasing the fish alive. The current IGFA record stands at 80 pounds and was set in 1980—making it the oldest record still standing for the species.
Maurer is well-known in local catfishing circles. In 2008 one of his monster cats was placed in the Nickajack Exhibit in the Tennessee Aquarium. Maurer has more than 200 awards from the Tennessee Angler Recognition Program and adds this most recent catch to a long list of IGFA awards.
Better know as "EricM" on Chattanooga's Fishing Forum, Maurer is always happy to share his fishing reports and his expertise with other budding catfishermen.
When he shared the initial report about this fish, he wrote, "I just leaned back on the rod and let it take line against the drag. Every time it slowed, I pumped it up out of the 50-foot depth until it decided to run again. It was really fun to watch the giant sonar image come up 20 feet and then dive for the bottom again and again. I wish I had thought to take a picture of it. I could tell that this fish was one of the biggest I had ever hooked. It wasn't fast, just really, really strong. I got it to the surface eventually for that first look, and although it wasn't exceptionally long, it had a huge girth —bigger than any cat I have caught. We played tug-of-war for a while, and every time I saw the fish, it looked bigger. When I finally got it into the net, it was all I could do to drag it over the rail."
Other "hot catches" from the IGFA
French angler Marie Edwige Madeleine Foret recently traveled to the island of Mauritius to target some of the great pelagic species found along the island nation. The young angler was not disappointed as she landed a 20-pound, 15-ounce dogtooth tuna while fishing with local guide Yann Colas on Feb. 15. Foret needed only six minutes to land this potential new female junior record. The current IGFA record, set in April 2004 in Rabaul, Papua New Guinea, is 4 pounds, 6 ounces.
IGFA representative Peter F. Binaski of Costa Mesa, Calif., landed a 17-pound dorado to qualify for the potential 8-pound tippet class record. Binaski, who currently holds this tippet class record, as well as the 6-pound and 12-pound records for the species, was fishing with local guide Elbio Bordon in Concordia, Argentina on Jan. 6 when his fish ate a well-presented deceiver fly. After a tense, 17-minute fight, Binaski landed the fish and quickly released it after completing the necessary documentation. Binaski’s current IGFA record stands at 14 pounds, 8 ounces.
Judging by this new record submission for bonnethead shark, angler Dotty Ballantyne has been taking advantage of the rich fishing grounds in Key West, Fla. Fishing with local captain Doug Kilpatrick on March 14, Ballantyne was able to coax a 9-pound, 14-ounce bonnethead to eat a custom baitfish fly. After a 10-minute fight over the flats, Ballantyne was able to successfully catch and release the new potential 6-pound tippet class record. If approved, this will be the 90th tippet class record for the fly fishing aficionado, 27 of which have been for species of sharks. The current IGFA record is 7 pounds and was set in McClellanville, S.C., late last year.
Angler Joshua D. Lee drove south from his hometown of Manassas, Va., to do some surf fishing on Ocracoke Island, N.C., on March 23. Soaking a fresh chunk of mullet, Lee was able to entice a 110-centimeter hearty red drum to bite. After fighting the fish for 13 minutes, Lee was able to land and properly document the fish before releasing it alive, potentially earning him a new record. The current IGFA record is 107 centimeters and was set on Fisherman’s Island, Chesapeake Bay, Va., but seven line class records for this species have also been set along Lee’s hunting ground on Ocracoke.
Smallfry angler Brielle Bennett brought up a black grouper while fishing off Key West on March 24 with her uncle. The young angler, who took first place in the female smallfry division of world records last year, needed 10 minutes to land the 38-pound black after it ate the live goggle eye she had on the bottom. After bringing the fish aboard for a quick picture and documentation, this potential new female smallfry record—Bennett’s first of the year—was released to swim another day. Less than half the size of Bennett’s catch, the current IGFA record stands at 14 pounds.
Angler Raymond Heredia Orosco of Highland, Ind., recently traveled to Colombia for a change of scenery and to do some freshwater fishing. Fishing in a private pond outside of Caicedonia on March 7, Orosco landed a huge tambaqui after it ate guayaba fruit and took him for a 17-minute fight. Weighing a whopping 37 pounds before it was released alive, Orosco’s fish easily qualifies for the potential new 6-pound line class record. The current IGFA record was set nearly 12 years ago with a 22-pound catch made in the Teles Pires River in Brazil.
Richard Simms is a contributing writer, focusing on outdoor sports.