Angler sets blue catfish record, then breaks own record the next day

Zakk Royce displays 105-pound blue catfish. Photo: Courtesy of Zakk Royce

A North Carolina fishing guide is credited with breaking the state record for blue catfish one day, then breaking his own record less than 24 hours later.

The fish caught by Zakk Royce weighed 91 and 105 pounds, respectively. The catches were made December 20 and 21 on Lake Gaston, but were not reported beyond area newspapers until this past week. (Royce uploaded a video of his catches on Monday. It’s posted below.)

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Royce, 25, who works for the Blues Brothers Catfish Guide Service, told the Roanoke-Chowan News Herald: “It’s like a dream come true. It has always been my goal to break the state record for catfish, but to reach that goal and then break my own record a day later… wow!”

The previous North Carolina record was an 89-pound blue catfish caught at Badin Lake in 2006.

Wired 2 Fish last week reported that after Royce made his first catch on a Sunday, he could not locate the state biologist to certify the catch. So he and his father stayed up all night pumping fresh water into the boat’s live-well, waiting for the biologist the next morning.

Zakk Royce (right) poses with his record blue catfish before letting it go. Photo: Courtesy of Zakk Royce

After releasing the fish that morning, Royce and his father baited new lines, and Royce hooked up with the larger catfish, which also was released after the catch was certified by the same biologist.

Writes Daniel Xu for the Outdoor Hub: “Understandably, the biologist could not believe Royce’s good luck. After some clarification and insisting that he truly had just broken the newly minted state record, the biologist came back and certified another fish for Royce.”

Blue catfish are native to the Mississippi, Missouri, and Ohio River basin systems, and have been introduced elsewhere in the United States.

Blue catfish are the largest species of catfish in the United States. The International Game Fish Association lists as the world record a 143-pound specimen, caught in Virginia’s Kerr Lake in 2011.

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