Man catches and releases Michigan state record flathead catfish

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Lloyd Tanner with his Michigan State record flathead catfish.

Michigan Department of Natural Resources

A self-proclaimed “old man” had finished fishing and was ready to go home, but was somehow persuaded to stay on a Michigan river past midnight. This decision paid off with a big fish.

Lloyd Tanner, of Hobart, Indiana, was fish the Saint-Joseph river with her nephew and her daughter’s boyfriend in the early hours of Sunday, May 29, when “a large chunk” of cut bait caught the attention of a huge catfish, according to WZZM.

About five minutes later, Tanner rolled him up, the station reported.

He and his fellow anglers weighed the fish on their own tournament scales and realized the catfish could break the Michigan state record if checked. But Tanner didn’t want the fish to die.

“Those who know me know I’m all about keeping and releasing fish and I never would. risk a fish for a recordTanner shared in a May 31 Facebook post.

“I really just wanted to let the fish go,” he continued. But catching a state record has been his dream for 30 years.

So Tanner got creative, finding a way to keep the fish alive. and go for the Michigan State Record Catfish. This decision was made a little more complicated given that it was Memorial Day weekend.

He put the fish in a livewell and made a few calls — then friends and state wildlife officials gathered to officially weigh the fish, he said.

The fish weighed 53.35 pounds and was 48 inches long, making it the state record flathead catfish, according to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. The catfish beat out a 52-pounder caught at Lake Barron by Dale Blakley of Niles in 2014.

“I went out and did something that almost every angler dreams of and caught a state record fish,” Tanner said on Facebook. “It only took over 30 years of joking about it on every trip for this to happen, but I did it!”

“After a few days of letting this sink in, I can tell those looking for records that it feels pretty cool,” he continued.

Tanner grabbed the state record from the St. Joseph River, a tributary of Lake Michigan, in Berrien County, according to the news release. The man travels from his home in Indiana to Michigan almost every weekend to fish.

“I’ve been fishing in Michigan for almost 30 years,” he told Michigan DNR. “What draws me to Michigan is the big catfish fishing.”

Kaitlyn Alanis is a McClatchy National Realtime Reporter based in Kansas. She is an alumnus of agricultural communication and journalism at Kansas State University.

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