The world’s biggest flathead catfish weighed 56 kg / 124 lbs. It was over 155 cm / 5ft long. The angler was Ken Paulin. It was caught in the Elk City Reservoir on May 14, 1998. The standard length is 1.2 meters or four feet. Larger specimens weigh over 100 lbs (45 kg).
Flathead Catfish Characteristics
The species shares some traits with other catfish. The skin has no scales. There are whisker-like barbells surrounding its mouth. The flat head of the fish, however, is what sets it apart. A flathead is also characterized by its lower jaw, which projects out. The tail fin is also notched. They are also known as a shovelhead cat, Opelousas or yellow cat.
Majority of flathead catfish have a faint yellowish color. Some have a brown or olive tint on their skins. Infant flathead catfish usually have a darker color. Majority of the flathead catfish have a pale yellow or cream colored stomach. There are pointed spines on the shoulder fins and back of the world’s biggest flathead catfish.
Most catfish are scavengers. The flathead catfish diet consists of other live fish. An infant flathead usually feeds on worms, insects and crayfish. Adult flathead feed on other catfish and largemouth brass. They may also feed on other flatheads. Usually however, they feed on other types of fish.
Habitat and Location
The flathead can live in different climate conditions. They can be found in the lower Great Lakes region, various waters of North America and northern parts of Mexico. The mating season of flatheads take place between May and August.
The catfish mate in waters with temperatures of 75 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit (23 to 27 degrees Celsius. The lifespan of most catfish range from 12 to 14 years.
Adult catfish swim alone. This is quire distinct from other fish that move around in schools. However, some flatheads travel together during the fry stage. But they will eventually embark on solo journeys.
The record for the largest flathead catfish should not be confused with other catfish species. The largest catfish ever caught was a Mekong catfish. It was almost 9 feet long and weighed 646 lbs. This was a freshwater catfish. When assessing record size catfish, the manner in which they are caught is evaluated also.
There are reports of even larger flathead catfish, but they have not yet been verified. Until such claims are verified, the specimen mentioned above remains the world’s biggest flathead catfish.