ISO World-Record Blue Cats
By: Keith "Catfish" Sutton
On September 16, 1959, on a South Dakota stretch of the Missouri River near Gayville, Ed Elliott of Vermillion, SD, caught a 97-pound, world-record blue catfish while fishing with his friend Charles Gray. The duo had caught 90-, 72- and 55-pound blues the same year. On this day, they set out from home with the specific intention of catching a new world-record blue.
They were on their fishing hole less than 30 minutes when Gray yelled, “Fish on!” Elliott grabbed the rod and “banged the hook in as hard as I could manage.”
It took 40 minutes to haul the big fish up. When the cat rolled, Gray yelled, “You got a 100 pounder!”
“Boy, did I get excited,” Elliott recalled in a later interview. “I knew the world record was only 94-1/2 pounds.”
What Elliott couldn’t know was that it would be more than three decades before an angler caught a bigger blue catfish on rod and reel.
Years passed. River “improvement” work begun after World War II continued taking an enormous toll on large river systems inhabited by blue cats. Catfishermen seeking trophy blues visited big rivers with increasing frequency. But their outings usually were frustrated by too few fish and a lack of trophy specimens.
Soon, fishing for monster blue cats was a sport relegated to trotliners and jug fishermen. Few rod-and-reel anglers would invest the time needed to catch the rare trophy-class blue. Channelization and dam building had worked their destruction. Few anglers thought Elliott’s record would ever be broken.
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