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Idaho man sets state record for biggest channel catfish, only to have it changed to a blue catfish record

Aug. 19, 2022 Updated Fri., Aug. 19, 2022 at 7:44 p.m.

Paul Newman, of Fruitland, Idaho, with his state’s catch-and-release record for blue catfish.  (Courtesy photo)
Paul Newman, of Fruitland, Idaho, with his state’s catch-and-release record for blue catfish. (Courtesy photo)
By Eric Barker The Lewiston Tribune

LEWISTON – Paul Newman broke a record, lost it because of a classification error, but immediately set another one – all with the same fish.

It’s been a crazy month for the Fruitland, Idaho, man. He caught and released a 42.5-inch catfish from C.J. Strike Reservoir on July 20. The fat feline of a fish was big enough to earn him the Idaho catch-and-release record for channel catfish and his feat was celebrated with an Idaho Department of Fish and Game news release. And as a result, Reed Monson, of Meridian, Idaho, was dethroned as the holder of the catch-and-release record for the species. Monson landed and released a 33-inch channel cat from Lake Lowell near Caldwell in 2020.

But a funny thing happened. According to an Idaho Fish and Game news release, biologists took a closer look at the photo documenting Newman’s catch and determined it was a blue catfish and not a channel catfish.

Neither species is native to Idaho, but blue catfish are quite rare in the Gem State. So rare that Newman immediately set the catch-and-release record. And in an everybody-wins scenario, Monson retained the record for channel catfish.

Fish and Game officials aren’t sure how Newman’s fish came to be in C.J. Strike. They don’t have records of blue catfish being stocked in Idaho in recent decades. They speculate the fish may have been inadvertently planted with a group of channel cats. The state often gets its channel catfish from commercial farms in the southeastern United States and the biologists surmise some blue catfish may have at some point been mixed in a pond with channel cats and been shipped to Idaho for release. They also said a blue cat may have been mixed in with channel cats raised at commercial farms in Idaho and escaped into the Snake River.

Either way, it appears Newman may own the record for quite some time.

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