A Georgia fisherman caught a flathead catfish the size of a Labrador retriever Sunday on the Altamaha River, tying a state record at 83 pounds and more than 4 feet long.
Jim Dieveney of Screven caught the record-tying flathead, sometimes called an appalossa catfish. True to its name, the species has a flattened head. It typically has a yellowish hue mottled with green and brown. Its lower jaw extends beyond the upper, and it has an unforked tail. It can weigh up to 125 pounds, though for Georgia the catch usually is less than 30 pounds.
According to state fisheries experts, the species prefers deep, murky pools with a light current and rubble-bottomed beds with holes. The best bait for the flathead is live, such as minnows, chubs, crayfish or sunfish.
Other anglers who think they may have reeled in a record catch should follow these steps:
-- Do not clean or freeze the fish
-- Keep it cool, preferably on ice.
-- Weigh it as soon as possible on scales certified accurate to the ounce by the Georgia Department of Agriculture. Have two witnesses older than 18 who are willing to provide their names, addresses and phone numbers. Immediate family members are ineligible as witnesses.
-- Take the fish to a Georgia Wildlife Resources Fisheries Management Office to have it identified by a biologist or technician.
-- Within 90 days of the catch, fill out an application and submit it with a side-view photo of the whole fish.