Dade City resident Richard Clinton now holds the record for catching the largest brown bullhead catfish on rod and reel in Florida waters, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).On Feb. 12, Clinton was crappie fishing with his cousin on Lake Iola, a privately owned lake in Pasco County. At 9:30 a.m., something big latched onto his live minnow in 32 feet of water. When the fish surfaced, they saw that it was a huge brown bullhead.“I was surprised at how strong the fish pulled once I hooked it,” Clinton said. “It fought harder than a 7-pound bass I also caught.”
The astonished Clinton believed his fish weighed significantly more than the existing state record, so he contacted FWC freshater fishery biologist Eric Johnson at the agency’s Lakeland regional office.
The next day, Johnson officially certified the fish as a new state record brown bullhead. The fish weighed 7.02 pounds and was 22.25 inches in length with a girth of 15. inches. Unbelievably, it was just a few ounces shy of the world record!
The previous state record was 5.72 pound brown bullhead caught by Robert Bengis on Cedar Creek in Duval County in 1995.
Per FWC state record fish certification rules, fish must be legally caught using active hook-and-line methods by an angler with a valid Florida fishing license or who is exept from license requirements. An FWC biologist must verify the species and weigh it on a certified scale.
“I knew I had a big fish,” Clinton said. “I’m glad I was recognized for catching a state record brown bullhead.” Brown bullhead catfish are native to the eastern United States and are similar in appearance to the yellow bullhead.
According to the International Game Fish Association the world record brwon bullhead is a 7-opound, 6-ounce fish that Glenn Collacuro caught from Mahopac Lake in New York on Aug. 1, 2009.