Bowfishermen Arrow a Pair Virginia State-Record Catfish
Anglers Josh Bailey and Richard Hayden Jr. set new records for blue and flathead catfish
The Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources (VDWR) announced this past Thursday that the top spots in the state’s bowfishing record category for both blue and flathead catfish have been bested. The new state-record blue cat with a bow came out of the Rappahannock River and weighed nearly 70 pounds, while the state’s largest recorded flathead—with an official weight of 48 pounds—was recently arrowed in the waters of Belmont Bay.
Josh Bailey of Waldorf, Maryland, boated the 69-pound record blue cat on October 20. When he finally brought the giant fish ashore, it taped out at 3 feet, 11 inches and sported a 35-inch girth. When certified by VDWR officials on October 21, it surpassed the previous record by more than 2 pounds. That fish was caught earlier this year by Jordan Emmel in the Pamunkey River and weighed 66.5 pounds.
Blue catfish are considered an invasive species in the Rappahannock River. According to the National Oceanic an Atmospheric Administration they’re invasive throughout the entire Chesapeake Bay Watershed.
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Richard Hayden Jr. of Bracey, Virginia is the new record holder in the archery category for flathead catfish. His 48-pound flathead also measured 3 feet, 11 inches, with the slightly smaller girth of 28.5 inches. He arrowed the fish on October 16, and the new record was certified by VDWR officials on October 28. Hayden’s fish beat David Raine’s 2020 record by a little over two pounds.
Like blue cats, flatheads aren’t native to Virginia’s waterways. Both species were introduced decades ago with the hope of establishing a viable recreational fishery in the state. Top destinations for Virginia flathead fishing include the New, Staunton, and James River, along with Flannigan, Smith, and Claytor Lakes.