Teen catches state-record flathead catfish in Florida

Last Updated: Thursday, May 19, 2016, 6:14 PM EDT

The catch of the day is also a part of Florida history.

A 13-year-old Alabama boy caught a 63.8-pound flathead catfish on the Chattahoochee River in Jackson County at about 2:30 p.m. Sunday, May 15. He beat the previous certified Florida state record by more than 8 pounds, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

  • Record-breaking flathead catfish weighed in at 63.8 pounds
  • Previous record was 55.05 pounds, set in 2011
  • Charles Patchen, who caught the fish, is from Alabama

Charles Patchen had reluctantly agreed to go bream fishing Sunday afternoon with his mother and stepfather, Jeanette and Bryan Atwell. After landing his state-record flathead catfish, his attitude toward the trip changed a bit.

When the bream suddenly stopped biting after a successful morning, Patchen's stepfather suggested there might be larger fish lurking in the water scaring off the bream. So, they switched from baiting with minnows to a bluegill they caught. After the second time his bait was hit, Patchen set the hook. He assumed it was hung up on something underwater, so he asked his stepfather for help.

"I grabbed the pole from him, gave it a couple tugs and the fish took off," Atwell said. "I handed the pole back to Charles and said, 'Get (him)!'"

Patchen fought the catfish hooked on his Zebco 33 with 14-pound test line for almost two hours while Atwell guided their boat with his trolling motor, following the fish in hopes of tiring it out. The monster flathead catfish eventually gave up the fight, and Patchen reeled it in.

After the fish flipped over, Atwell had to roll it into their boat because it was too large for their net.

"I was so tired after reeling it in that I fell back into the boat to rest," Patchen said. "But I'm glad my mom made me go fishing that day, because now I am the catfish master."

FWC Biologist Katie Woodside met Patchen and his family the next day to get an official certified weight and measurements and to have the application notarized. The official measurements were 48.03 inches in total length with a girth of 35.43 inches.

The previous certified state record flathead catfish weighed 55.05 pounds and was caught on the Yellow River in 2011 by James Auston Jr.

State records require a biologist to verify the species and have a certified weight for the notarized application. The FWC maintains records for 33 freshwater species. Other state records can be seen at MyFWC.com/Fishing (select Freshwater and then State Record Fish).

Patchen will receive a state-record certificate and online recognition on the FWC website, along with qualifying his first Big Catch toward becoming a catfish specialist or master angler.


The previous Florida flathead catfish record was 55.05 pounds, caught on 2011. (Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission)