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Fly fish angler reels in potential world-record blue catfish in Texas river

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A Texas angler has reeled in a potential world-record blue catfish.

Ben Christensen, of Johnson City, caught the 31.55-pound river monster on Oct. 11 with a 4-weight fly rod, which he says is typically unsuitable for catching fish over about five pounds.

Christensen, who posted his massive catch on his Instagram pearlsnapflyfishing, told KSAT he used his years of experience to reel in the catfish in the Pedernales River, despite the small fly rod.

xe2x80x9cI have caught a lot of big fish and know how to keep the rod and my knots from breaking by being careful with the reelxe2x80x99s drag and the angle of the fly rod,xe2x80x9d Christensen said. xe2x80x9cThe rod tip was bent over almost double during the whole fight.xe2x80x9d

xe2x80x9cI was casting an olive-colored variation of a creek damsel fly my son had tied up the night before. Itxe2x80x99s a fly he designed called the Chips xe2x80x98N Salsa, because every fish wants to eat it,xe2x80x9d said Christensen.

According to the International Game Fish Association, the catfish might be a world record holder. Currently, the 12-pound tippet record for a blue catfish is a Florida fish that weighs in at 26 pounds, 4 ounces – significantly less than Christensenxe2x80x99s catch.

xe2x80x9cThis catfish is definitely a personal best,xe2x80x9d Christensen said. xe2x80x9cThis one surprised me, because catfish are usually holed up along the riverxe2x80x99s bottom, and can be hard to catch while fly fishing.xe2x80x9d

Texas Parks and Wildlife officials with the Inland Fisheries San Marcos/Austin District said the catch is pending the water body record for the Pedernales River.

Christensen said he kept the fish xe2x80x9cbecause, after a fight of 40 minutes, I was pretty certain it would perish. Even though it is old and the flesh not prime for eating, we filleted it thin for deep frying.xe2x80x9d

He said he typically releases fish back into the river but not always.

xe2x80x9cCatch-and-release is a hot-button debate in fly fishing,xe2x80x9d Christensen said. xe2x80x9cI have caught some big, big fish from the Sabinal River in Lost Maples State Natural Area, to my home waters in the Pedernales and everywhere in between. I have released every single one of those fish until this catfish.xe2x80x9d

The angler is currently writing a book titled Fly Fishing San Antonio and the Texas Hill Country, which is due out in Sept. 2023. It will be part of the Local Angler series which launched with the award-winning Fly Fishing Austin and Central Texas by Aaron Reed.

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