H.S. Football Coach Catches World-Record Blue Catfish
Pending certification — and Department of Game and Inland Fisheries biologists say everything about the entry seems legitimate — the fish will shatter both state and world records for the species.
Anderson’s catch was 57 inches long, with a girth of 43.5 inches. According to DGIF fisheries biologist Bob Greenlee, a blue catfish that size was probably between 15 and 25 years old. It would be Virginia’s only all-tackle freshwater world record.
In March on Buggs Island Lake, Tony Milam set the current Virginia record with a 109-pound blue catfish. Greg Bernal, of Florissant, Mo., netted the world record, a 130-pounder, at the confluence of the Mississippi and Missouri rivers less than a year ago.
Anderson hooked the fish shortly before 8 p.m. near Goat Island and brought it to the boat four times before he, his stepbrother Jeramie Mullis and his father, Rick Anderson, could lift it on deck. The fight lasted 45 minutes.
“My brother and my dad were jumping up and down,” said Anderson, a high school football coach. “I just sat there kind of shocked. At the time we didn’t know how much he weighed. We knew he was big. We knew we were going to get him certified and measured. But we didn’t know he was going to be a world record.”
Catching the fish was just the beginning of their night. Because it was late on Saturday, local bait and tackle shops were closed. The anglers didn’t know who to notify about the catch, so they called the sheriff.
The sheriff contacted Mecklenburg Supply in Chase City, which opened the shop, called the game department and weighed the fish on their certified scales.
By the next morning, word of the catch had spread, and there was a line of locals out the door wanting to catch a glimpse of the fish.
“This is a small town, and it was a real Norman Rockwell [scene],” said Dallas Weston, a reporter for the Mecklenburg News-Progress, who saw the fish Sunday morning. “Everybody knew about it, and everybody came to get a look at it.”
The fish survived the night in a 250-gallon container with aerators to keep the water oxygenated but died midday Sunday. Anderson said they did all they could to keep it alive but speculated that the time out of the water between the catch and when they got it to the farm-supply store was too much stress for it to bear.
When asked what kind of bait it takes to lure the largest blue catfish ever caught, Anderson clammed up.
“It’s a little family secret,” he said, chuckling. “That’s all I’ll say.”