On Water All Things Paddle

Angler’s 76.52-pound flathead is an Arizona record and the heaviest fish ever caught in the state

Guide nicknamed 'Flathead Ed' lands behemoth after a 35-minute struggle

An angler and guide nicknamed “Flathead Ed” lived up to his moniker and then some Friday by catching a 76.52-pound flathead catfish, which is an Arizona record and the heaviest fish of any species ever landed in the state.

arizona catfish

Eddie “Flathead Ed” Wilcoxson poses with record-setting flathead catfish. Photo is courtesy of the Arizona Game and Fish Department

Eddie “Flathead Ed” Wilcoxson, 56, was fishing at Bartlett Lake and using a 2-pound carp as bait. The monstrous flathead began taking the bait at about 2 a.m., as Wilcoxson was asleep on a fold-out cot aboard his 24-foot pontoon boat.

“Everybody’s got the same chance I do,” he said afterward. “You just have to get out and do it.”

The fish was caught, on 60-pound braided line, after a 35-minute struggle. It measured 53.5 inches and boasted a 34.75-inch girth.

Before Friday, the heaviest fish caught in Arizona was a 74-pound flathead catfish caught in 1988 on the Colorado River, according to an Arizona Game and Fish Department news release. The previous inland waters state record was a 71-pound, 10.24-ounce flathead caught in 2003 at San Carlos Lake.

[Related: The biggest fish ever caught from a kayak.]

It seems fitting that someone known as Flathead Ed would beat those old records.

“I sleep out on the water three to four days sometimes,” said Wilcoxson, a lifelong angler who obtained his guide license on April 1. “Sometimes during Thanksgiving I’ll spend three weeks straight out there. Also, I fished 39 weekends last year.”

For the sake of comparison, the International Game Fish Assn. lists a 123-pound flathead as the all-tackle world record. That monster was caught in 1998 at Elk City Reservoir in Kansas.

Note: Wilcoxson will be featured Monday at 4:30 p.m. PST (live, but show will be archived thereafter) on Phil Friedman Outdoors Radio.

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