RECORD BREAKER: Man catches massive catfish on Yellow River



SANTA ROSA COUNTY, Fla. (WKRG) — A Santa Rosa County man recently had a catch of a lifetime.

Angler Lavon Nowling caught a record-breaking flathead catfish, weighing 69.9 pounds and measuring 48.5 inches long, with a girth of 38.25 inches. Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) fisheries biologists certified the catch as new state record.

FWC says Nowling caught his flathead catfish on rod and reel using live bait in the Yellow River.

“I’ve caught some good ones before this fish, but none of them were more than 54 pounds,” Nowling said in a media release. “I’ve been fishing since I was old enough to hold a pole and have been fishing on Yellow River as long as I can remember.”

The media release says Nowling brought his catch to the FWC’s Blackwater Hatchery near Holt, where biologists weighed it on a certified scale. The last state record flathead catfish was caught in 2019 on the same river. That fish was caught by Marvin Griffin and weighed 69.3 pounds.

Nowling said he was just in the right place at the right time.

FWC says flathead catfish are a nonnative fish found in many northwest Florida Panhandle river systems.

“Flatheads prefer long, slow flowing, moderately turbid rivers. Their solitary lifestyle makes them more difficult to catch than other catfish,” the media release said.

To properly certify a new freshwater Florida state record, an FWC employee must witness its weighing on a certified scale and a biologist must identify the species. Anglers can check the current state records at by clicking on “State Record,” and should notify the nearest FWC regional office if they believe they have caught a record fish.

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