The Biggest Catfish Ever Caught (That We Know Of)

Catfishing goes beyond just a leisure activity. For many, it's a pursuit of record-breaking giants that lurk in the depths of rivers and lakes. The biggest catfish ever caught has become a tale of modern-day fishing folklore, sparking slogans like: "Happiness is a big catfish and a witness."

Curious what lurks below? Here's a look at the world record of biggest catfish ever caught.

A New World-Record Catfish

The current title of the largest catfish ever recorded goes to a Wels catfish caught in the River Po, Italy, in 2023, by an Italian angler named Alessandro Biancardi.

This particular flathead catfish was the result of only a few casts into shallow water where the fisherman noticed a massive disturbance. After a long and complicated fight, the fish was finally brought to shore, its size exceeding any expectations.

This gigantic fish stood about 9 feet (2.7 meters) in length and weighed an astonishing 280 pounds (127 kg). The International Game Fish Association (IGFA) has documented previous world record catfish catches, but this particular one stands out.

Where Is The Giant Catfish Now?

After its capture, the record-breaking catfish was documented and then released back into the River Po, following the practice of catch and release advocated by many in the angling community.

This practice ensures that these magnificent creatures can continue to thrive and potentially break records again in the future, giving other anglers the opportunity to experience the same joy and excitement that Biancardi did.

5 Notable Catfish Records

Throughout the years, the quest for capturing a large fish has led to some remarkable catches that have etched their names into fishing history. These catches not only showcase the incredible diversity and size of catfish but also highlight the skill and perseverance of the anglers who caught them.

  1. The Mekong Giant: In northern Thailand, a Giant Mekong catfish tipped the scales at an astonishing 646 pounds (293 kg) in 2005. This massive fish set a world record for the largest freshwater fish ever caught at the time.

  2. The Amazonian Surprise: South America's Amazon River basin, known for its biodiversity, produced a Piraiba catfish weighing 341 pounds (155 kg) in 2009.

  3. European Behemoth: In Spain, the Ebro River is home to some of the largest wels catfish ever caught (more on wels later). A notable catch in 2018 saw an angler reel in a wels catfish that weighed over 250 pounds (113 kg) and measured nearly 8 feet (2.4 meters) in length.

  4. African Giant: The continent of Africa is not to be outdone, with a record-setting catch of a Vundu catfish in Zimbabwe. Weighing in at 143 pounds (65 kg), caught in 2019, it is the largest recorded catfish in African waters.

  5. The Mississippi Monster: The United States has its own tales of giant fish, with a Blue catfish caught in the Mississippi River weighing in at 130 pounds (59 kg) in 2010.

Each of these records represents not just a personal achievement for the anglers involved but also contributes to our understanding of the capabilities and habitats of catfish species worldwide.

What Is a Wels Catfish?

The Wels catfish, a species native to central and eastern Europe, is known for its enormous size and predatory nature. This prehistoric fish can grow to lengths of over 9 feet (2.7 meters), making it one of the largest freshwater fish in the world.

The Wels catfish's diet is as diverse as its habitat, feeding on fish, amphibians, and even small birds. The combination of its size, strength, and voracious appetite makes it a prized catch among anglers seeking the thrill of a challenging fight.

Wels catfish are primarily found in the warm, slow-moving rivers and lakes of central and eastern Europe. Their habitat extends from the Baltic Sea in the north down to the Black Sea in the south, including the watersheds of major rivers like the Danube and the Volga.

In recent years, this species has been introduced to other regions, including Italy's River Po, where the conditions have proven ideal for the catfish to thrive and reach record sizes.

We created this article in conjunction with AI technology, then made sure it was fact-checked and edited by a HowStuffWorks editor.

Original article: The Biggest Catfish Ever Caught (That We Know Of)

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