Flagstaff Man Catches Record Catfish at Lake Mary

Carson Pete holds his record catfish. | Courtesy of Arizona Game and Fish Department

It's not exactly the General Sherman, but the catfish Carson Pete hauled in last month broke a record that's stood for 30 years.

As the Arizona Game and Fish Department reported, Pete caught a 33.36-pound, 39.5-inch channel catfish March 26 at Upper Lake Mary near Flagstaff. Both measurements broke the previous inland waters hook-and-line state record for channel catfish, set in 1987 at Parker Canyon Lake. The fish Chuck Berndt caught back then weighed 32.25 pounds and was 38.75 inches long.

Pete wasn't even out for catfish — he was looking for northern pike — but he spotted the monster fish and happened to have packed a heavy spinning rod. He used a few frozen anchovies for bait. It took him about 20 minutes to reel the fish in, he said.

"Before I left, my 7-year-old daughter kept saying, "You're going to catch a big fish. Send a picture when you do," Pete told Game and Fish. "Well, I saw a few people fishing for pike and no one was having any luck. So I just kept fishing and fishing."

Game and Fish wildlife specialist Scott Rogers said it's possible this catfish was as old as the record it broke. The species has been recorded living as long as 40 years.

Upper Lake Mary also produced the largest inland waters catch-and-release catfish on record in Arizona. That 34-inch fish was caught in 2015.

For more information on fishing in Arizona, visit the Game and Fish website or pick up a copy of Arizona's Official Fishing Guide, an Arizona Highways book produced in partnership with the department.

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