Two Huge Catfish Break Virginia Bowfishing Records
The Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources (VDWR) announced last Thursday that the top spots in the state bowfishing record category for blue and flathead catfish have been surpassed. The state’s new record-breaking blue cat with a bow emerged from the Rappahannock River and weighed nearly 70 pounds, while the state’s largest flathead on record – with an official weight of 48 pounds – was recently bowed in the waters of Belmont Bay.
Josh Bailey of Waldorf, Maryland sailed the record-breaking 69-pound Blue Cat on October 20. When he finally brought the giant fish ashore, he stuck at 3ft 11in and sported a 35in girth. When he was certified by VDWR officials on October 21, he surpassed the previous record by over 2 pounds. This fish was caught earlier this year by Jordan Emmel in the Pamunkey River and weighed in at 66.5 pounds.
The blue catfish is considered an invasive species in the Rappahannock River. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, they are invasive throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed.
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Richard Hayden Jr. of Bracey, Va., is the new record holder in the archery category for flathead catfish. His 48-pound flathead was also 3-foot-11, with a slightly smaller circumference of 28.5 inches. He darted the fish on October 16 and the new record was certified by VDWR officials on October 28. Hayden’s fish broke David Raine’s 2020 record by just over two pounds.
Like blue cats, flatheads are not native to Virginia waterways. Both species were introduced decades ago in hopes of establishing a viable recreational fishery in the state. Top flathead fishing destinations in Virginia include the New, Staunton, and James Rivers, as well as Flannigan, Smith, and Claytor Lakes.