Connecticut Man Hooks World Record White Catfish

A man holding a statue
Field & Stream

World record alert!

It looks like the 10th world record breaking fish of the year has been caught.

The other world record breakers include a Spanish hogfish from North Carolina, a bighead carp and a spotted gar from Missouri, a tiger trout in Washington, a snook in Mexico, a yellowmouth grouper in Florida, a paddlefish in Oklahoma, a meanmouth bass in Texas, a bullhead catfish in Louisiana, and a sunfish in Arizona.

The most recent record breaker is a white catfish that was caught by Ben Tomkunas in Connecticut.

The 21-pound 3-ounce fish smashed the previous state record of 12-pounds 7.5-ounces.

The fish is just an absolute unit when it comes to white catfish, which are one of the smaller of all catfish species. Also known as white bullheads, the fish weigh about 2-pounds on average and specimens over 10 pounds are extremely uncommon. To catch one that weighs more than 20-pounds is a spectacularly rare achievement.

Tomkunas shared his story with Field & Stream.

“It was almost like pulling in a 30-inch striper. It was the craziest fight. When we got it on the shore, we said ‘Holy moly!

Now that the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) has confirmed the fishes weight and verified it as a state record, the angler will now be applying to have the fish certified as a world record. The previous world record for a white bullhead was caught in California in 2005 and weighed 19-pounds 5-ounces.

That means the fish that Tomkunas caught is the first white catfish ever documented to weigh at least 20-pounds.

He was actually fishing for carp with a homemade dough ball when he caught the big cat.

“I actually had no idea that there were catfish in the lake.”

He also said that as soon as he pulled the fish from the water, his fishing buddy thought the fish was special right away and suspected the fish might be a new state record.

Connecticut is home to some solid cat fishing opportunities and the state currently has 10 different lakes, ponds, and reservoirs that are specifically designated as catfish management areas. In most of those areas, channel catfish that grow up to 25-pounds have been stocked but the fish have established a thriving population in the Connecticut River as well.

White catfish are native to the Eastern U.S. and can withstand more salinity than other catfish. In the Constitution State, they tend to live in brackish estuaries along the Connecticut, Housatonic, Thames, and Quinnipiac Rivers.

The fish that Tomkunas caught was so big by white catfish standards that DEEP officials had to examine the fish closely to make sure that it wasn’t a channel cat instead. Since the record has been confirmed by the state, it will most likely be officially confirmed as the world record in the near future as well.

When asked if he went out expecting to catch a world record on that night in August, Tomkunas said it wasn’t on his mind.

“I was shocked.”

HOLY White Catfish Batman! Congrats to Ben Tomkunas who shattered the former CT state record ( 12.75 pounds) for the White Catfish with this 21.3 pound monster from Coventry Lake. This was a tough one to verify as Channel Cats and White Cats, especially when so large, look very similar. With multiple sets of expert eyes, we confirm the new state record.

HOLY White Catfish Batman! Congrats to Ben Tomkunas who shattered the former CT state record ( 12.75 pounds) for the…

Posted by Connecticut Fish and Wildlife on Wednesday, September 8, 2021

A beer bottle on a dock

STAY ENTERTAINED

A beer bottle on a dock