LAKE ALDRED, LANCASTER COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) certified a new state record Tuesday after an area angler caught a flathead catfish weighing over 60 lbs.
According to the PFBC on Sunday, May 14, angler Michael Wherley, 46, of Fayetteville, Franklin County was fishing on a section of the Susquehanna River known as Lake Aldred, near Conestoga, Lancaster County.
The PFBC says Wherley says knew right away the fish he hooked had to be very large as his arms started to cramp while he battled the catfish for the next 30 minutes.
“When it finally came to the surface, all I could think was that it was humungous. When I got the fish next to the boat, I handed the rod to Tommy, and I stuck both hands in the fish’s mouth and pulled as hard as I could to bring it aboard. We knew we had something,” Wherley stated.
Wherley says he has been fishing for Flathead Catfish on the Susquehanna River for about 15 years. He said he was confident that his catch had a chance to beat the record, so he headed to Columbia Bait and Tackle where a certified scale was located.
At about 3:50 p.m., PFBC Waterways Conservation Officer Jeff Schmidt was on duty and recorded Wherley’s Flathead Catfish weighing 66 lbs., 6 oz., outweighing the previous state record by more than ten pounds. Required for state record consideration, the weight and species of fish were verified by Officer Schmidt, who conducted an in-person inspection of the Flathead Catfish at the tackle shop.
Following the inspection, Schmidt accompanied Wherley to the Columbia River Park boat ramp where the catfish was successfully released back into the river.
Wherley completed a state record fish application which included color photographs and detailed information about the catch, which was reviewed and confirmed by the PFBC Division of Fisheries Management.
“This is just incredible, and I’m really glad we were able to release the fish back into the river. My previous personal best flathead was 44 lbs last year. I know I’ve had bigger ones on the line, but they got off before I could get them on the boat. I’ll enjoy this record as long as it lasts, but I’m sure it will probably be broken in a year or two, if not sooner. I’m 100 percent certain there are even bigger fish out there,” Wherley added.
A list of current Pennsylvania State Record Fish, official rules, and applications can be found online on the PFBC’s website.