Photos: Mississippi Angler Breaks Record with Monster Catfish

Photos: Mississippi Angler Breaks Record with Monster Catfish

A Mississippi man shattered state records on July 31 with a 104-pound blue catfish caught after a long weekend on the Mississippi River near Natchez. Christopher Halley of Brookhaven, Mississippi, caught the behemoth fish of biblical proportions on a trotline, setting a record for blue catfish in the state’s Trophy category.

“I didn’t know it was a record when I first got in the boat, but I knew it was a really big fish,” Halley said.

The Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks maintains three categories for fishing records: “Rod and Reel,” “Fly Fishing,” and “Trophy.” While the “Rod and Reel” and “Fly Fishing” categories are straightforward, the trophy category is defined by less traditional fishing methods such as trotlines, limblines, jugs, bowfishing, and noodling. Halley’s catch broke the previous record set by Freddie Parker and Brad Smith in 1997 by three pounds.

Halley left to go fishing the day before but was caught by a heavy storm while on the river and ended up having to sleep in his boat. Shortly after breakfast the next day, Halley checked his lines and could feel something pulling.

“I knew he was a good fish, but I didn’t think he was that big,” he said.

Halley catfish record

When the catfish revealed itself, Halley knew it would pose some logistical issues. He tried capturing the fish in his net, but it wasn’t big enough. Half of the fish was hanging out of the net and he worried it was so big that it would just fall out. So, in an incredible feat of strength, Halley—who at the time thought it weighed 70, maybe 80 pounds—grabbed the fish by the gills and hoisted it onto his boat.

That’s when Halley realized the magnitude of what he just landed. “I knew he was the best fish I had caught,” Halley said, whose previous personal record weighed in at around 50 pounds. He attempted to weigh the fish on his scale and saw the needle dancing around 100 pounds. “That’s when I really started to realize what I had,” he said.

Being particular about how he keeps his fish, Halley was determined to get the fish on ice right away. However, while trying to get his catch into his new cooler, the fish broke the cooler.

On his way home he stopped by his favorite bait shop, Joe Bob’s, to properly weigh the fish. With the help of a stranger, Halley got the fish on the scale. It weighed in at 103.8 pounds.

record catfish

Halley’s brother started Googling state records and told Halley that he should probably call the game warden. After finding a certified scale and again weighing the fish, the warden confirmed that Halley had just broken the state record.

After pulling home with his record-breaking catfish and around 40 other fish, Halley knew he was in for a proper fish fry.

“A lot of people will tell you ‘why eat a fish like that, they ain’t no good,’” Halley said. “But that is not always true.”

fish fry

Halley is a lifelong fisherman whose father taught him how to fish when he was a small kid. However, he credits his father- and mother-in-law, David and Sandra Case with teaching him how to properly catfish.

His fish was the second record blue caught in Mississippi this year. In April, Eugene Cronley landed a 131-pound blue catfish also near Natchez in the “Rod and Reel” category, making it the biggest caught in recorded state history.

Though it may seem like a coincidence, or that something in the water near Natchez is breeding monster fish, Jerry Brown, director of fisheries for the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks, suspects that it is more likely due to the abundance of boat ramps near Natchez, making it a popular fishing destination. He notes that other parts of the Mississippi River can be fairly remote and inaccessible to anglers.

However, that is not to say there isn’t great catfishing in Mississippi. There’s plenty of food for the notoriously gluttonous fish to gorge on, as well as fertile waters and a long growing season that allows for monstrous catfish like Halley’s, according to Brown.

“It just shows that we have really good fish here around our state, [that] one of our fish gets as large as that with plenty of food and the right environment,” Brown said.

trophy catfish record broke in MS

Images via Christopher Halley.

Shop

Kalon O Blackout Spinning Reel
Save this product
13 Fishing
$79.99
At home both in open water and in the frozen tundra, 13 Fishing Kalon O Spinning Reels are performance-proven and tested by the most rugged and rowdy anglers we know.
MeatEater Branded Yeti Hopper M30
Save this product
YETI
$299.99
Whether you're into suds, brewskis, seltzers, or vino, if it comes in a can or bottle and is best served cold, the Hopper M30 is the ticket.
Mermaid's Trident Zesty Seafood Blend
Save this product
Spiceology
$9.99
A bright citrus-based blend that is balanced with earthy notes of smokey chardonnay and mild heat to round it out. This unique combination is incredibly versatile, perfectly pairs with your latest catch, fresh garden veggies, or atop roasted potatoes.
Inception Baitcast Reel
Save this product
13 Fishing
$120.00
A lightweight body and super low-profile design provide incredible comfort during long days on the water.
Omen Black Spinning Rod
Save this product
13 Fishing
$130.00
Japanese 36 Ton Toray Graphite , 4A Portuguese Cork Handle, ALPS 316 Stainless Steel Guides with Zirconia Inserts.
LoadOut GoBox 30
Save this product
YETI
$249.99
The MeatEater crew uses our GoBoxes for storing all kinds of gear, from ammo and range hardware to outdoor kitchen essentials, dog accessories, fishing tackle, and gear, camera equipment, truck tools, and medical supplies. Why buy expensive hunting and outdoor gear only to store it in a cheap plastic bin with a lid that doesn't fit correctly? Elevate your gear protection and organization with this waterproof, dustproof, shockproof, and critter...
Get the latest in your inbox
Subscribe to our newsletters to receive regular emails with hand-picked content, gear recommendations, and special deals.
Our picks for the week's best content and gear
For the whitetail obsessed, with Mark Kenyon
Redefining our connection to food, with Danielle Prewett
Your one-stop for everything waterfowl, with Sean Weaver
Get out on the water with the MeatEater Fishing crew
Technical hunting apparel
Purpose-built accessories for hunting and fishing
Quality elk, turkey, waterfowl, and deer calls
Save this article