First Reported By WV Metro News: An excursion to check out new gear turned into the fishing trip of a lifetime for Cabell County angler Austin Hoffman, who hooked a state-record blue catfish. The fish weighed 52.95 pounds and measured 47.75 inches, both state records. The 22-year-old from Milton was waffling about whether to take his boat to the Ohio River on April 26.
“I was actually going out to test out a new drift rod holder set up I put in my boat,” said Hoffman. “I took my girlfriend with me and didn’t have any intention of catching anything. I didn’t even bring a net.”
Hoffman and his companion put out their lines in the tailwaters of the Robert C. Byrd Lock and Dam and started drifting downstream. He told his girlfriend he planned to get to a certain spot, reel in the lines, and head back upstream to try again.
“About the time I started reeling the ones on the rear up, I saw the front one go down,” he said. “I fought him for about 15 minutes and when I got him to the surface, there was no doubt in my mind it was a new state record.”
Hoffman had hooked into the record-breaking blue catfish. Although a native fish to West Virginia’s big rivers the blue cats were largely eliminated by the construction of the locks and dams on the rivers decades ago. Five years ago, the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources engaged in a program to restore them with great results.
“We suspect records for a new fish like this is going to be broken quite a lot,” said Biologist Scott Morrison who certified the new record. “However, this time it wasn’t broken by just a pound or so, it was broken by a considerable amount.”
Hoffman’s catfish bested the previous record, also caught from the Ohio River in 2012 by Mark Foster. Foster’s fish was 44.5 pounds and 43.9 inches.
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