Massive blue catfish is new state record in Delaware

Delaware has a new state record blue catfish. The 48-pound, 3.2-ounce fish was pulled from the Nanticoke River around 1:30 a.m. Oct. 8 by James Lord. “It’s the biggest catfish I’ve ever put on,” Lord told F&S. “Caught it straight off the bottom while fishing a 4.5-inch live bluegill with a 4-ounce sinker.”

Lord’s Blue Cat was taped 40.5 inches and had a 30 inch waist. “I caught it on a Shakespeare Tiger rod spooled with 20-pound-test line,” Lord said. “It took me 20 to 30 minutes to get him. He put up a lot more fight than the 15 to 20 pounds we’ve caught.”

God said conditions have been tougher than normal in Nanticoke this year. “I have been walking around this place for about three months. The drought this summer has been terrible,” he said. “It was so hot and dry that the only things they were hitting were catfish and snakeheads – so we started targeting catfish.”

Delaware fisherman catches state record giant blue catfish
Lord had the fish weighed at two different tackle shops and certified by a Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control official.

Lord and his son, James Lord Jr., were using nightcrawlers and chicken breasts for bait in the early summer. They were bringing a lot of good fish to the boat that way, but as the season wore on, they decided to freeze money. “About a month ago, I found this drop where the depth goes from 3 meters to 8 feet, and then up to 15 feet,” he said. “With the outgoing tide, your boat is lowered just enough to drop it into the depths and bring it back into the shallows as needed. I started at that location using 2.5 inch tees. I kept catching 10 pound fish so I moved up to 3.5 inch needles and was catching a lot of 15 to 20 pound catfish with them. Then I went to a 4 ½ inch, and [the 48-pounder] bumped into him.”

Lord said he had four more lines when the record-breaking blue cat swallowed his bait. His son took them in when God was bound. “If it wasn’t for him, I probably would have gone over my limits and I could have lost that fish,” Lordi said. “It’s a team effort every time we go out.”

Dauphin Island Charter Fishing

Blue catfish are not native to Nanticoke. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) they are invasive throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Although they make for fun fishing, they are wreaking havoc on the ecosystems within the Bay and its tributaries. “The blue mullet eats basically everything, including blue crabs and other fish,” according to NOAA. “They compete with other bigger fish for food. They also eat those other fish. As a result, these apex predators are throwing the food web out of balance.”

Read further: Large 89-pound cobia breaks Delaware state record

Regardless, Lord said he couldn’t be happier with his state record capture and he plans to set it. He has already set a neighboring state’s blue catfish state record. “I’m pretty close to the Maryland line, and I’m shooting for that, too,” he said. “Their state record is 86 pounds and it was caught in the Potomac. We are across the bay from the Potomac. There’s a hole there where I’ve been fishing. I haven’t gotten anything over 20 pounds out of it yet, but I know [there are bigger fish] in there.”

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