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Angler reels in 53-pound catfish to break Michigan state record

An Indiana man fishing in Berrien County caught a new state-record fish last month in the St. Joe River.
Credit: Michigan DNR
Lloyd Tanner, from Hobart, Indiana, was fishing the St. Joe River in Berrien County in the early-morning hours Sunday, May 29, when he caught a flathead catfish weighing 53.35 pounds and measuring 48 inches.

BERRIEN COUNTY, Mich. — An Indiana angler fishing the St. Joe River in Berrien County last month got a bite that he won't soon forget. 

Lloyd Tanner, of Hobart, was using cut bait and targeting catfish in the St. Joe River during the early morning hours of Sunday, May 29, when he reeled in the record-breaking catfish.

"Well, I was out there fishing with my nephew and my daughter's boyfriend, and we kind of set up on a spot. And, you know, cast it out a big chunk of live bait or cut bait. And yeah, he took the pole down and he was kind of wrapped up in some logs. He took about four or five minutes to reel them in, and then we netted him, brought him in the boat, started throwing them on the scales, you know, just to see how much he weighed," said Tanner.

The flathead catfish weighed 53.35 pounds and measured 48 inches.

Tanner's fish was verified by Jay Wesley, Lake Michigan Basin coordinator with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

"I'm a die hard cat fisherman, I run the Michigan Catfish Anglers Trail. So, we do tournaments every weekend, and we're well aware of the record so we knew," Tanner added.

This fish beats the previous state-record flathead catfish – 52 pounds, 46.02 inches long – caught in 2014 by Dale Blakley, of Niles, out of Barron Lake in Cass County.

Tanner visits Michigan about every weekend to fish with friends in the Michigan Catfish Anglers Trail, or MCATS, an amateur fishing club. 

"I've been fishing Michigan for almost 30 years," Tanner said. "What draws me to Michigan is fishing for big catfish."

MCATS is hosting their annual "Battle of Grand" open catfishing tournament on June 19 at the Bass River Recreation Area in Allendale. Anyone is welcome to participate for cash prizes, no membership required.

Michigan's state-record fish are recognized by weight only. To qualify, fish must exceed the current listed state-record weight, and identification must be verified by a DNR fisheries biologist.

To view a current list of Michigan state-record fish by species, visit Michigan.gov/StateRecordFish.

Credit: Michigan DNR
Lloyd Tanner, from Hobart, Indiana, was fishing the St. Joe River in Berrien County in the early-morning hours Sunday, May 29, when he caught a flathead catfish weighing 53.35 pounds and measuring 48 inches.

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