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New top river monster pulled from Susquehanna River – PennLive

Joshua Dixon hoists the 57-pound flathead catfish that is the largest of its species encountered to date in the Susquehanna River. (Photo courtesy of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources)
The upper limit for a giant fish in the Susquehanna River has been bumped up once again by the latest record flathead catfish to be pulled from the river by an angler.
A 57-pound, 50-inch-long flathead has been certified as the first-ever state record for the invasive, predatory species by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.
That tops a 50-pound 7-ounce catfish caught in the river near the Muddy Creek public access in York County on April 6, 2019, that held the Pennsylvania state record for more than a year.
The Maryland fish also tops the current Pennsylvania record for flathead catfish, held by a 56-pound 3-ounce, 50-inch-long fish hooked in the Schuylkill River on May 24, 2020. That catfish also is the largest fish of any species from any from any Pennsylvania water on record with the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission.
The latest jaw-dropping catfish was caught December 27 near the Lapidum Boat Ramp, which is about 10 river-miles downriver of the Pennsylvania-Maryland state line.
It was caught by Joshua Dixon, a resident of Cecil County, Maryland, while fishing from shore near the boat ramp.
He said he battled the fish for almost 30 minutes, after it sucked in his Zoom plastic swimbait. The intensity and length of the battle with the massive fish were amplified by the gear Dixon was using, a medium-weight spinning rod and reel.
“It was really weird because I thought I snagged a tree,” he said. “It didn’t feel like a fish but after a while, it was going crazy.”
After having the fish officially certified by Jack Manning of Keen Compressed Gas in Elkton, Maryland, Dixon shared the fish with some friends.
Jonathan Pierce, the 34-year-old father of four from Roxborough, Pennsylvania, who caught the current Pennsylvania state-record flathead last May in the Schuylkill River and pursues the monster fish regularly, believes larger fish are out there.
He said he expects his state record will be broken by a flathead in the Susquehanna River, where he sees a larger base of forage fish able to support more growth in the top-end predators. Even there, he thinks Pennsylvania will probably top out in the low to mid-60-pound range because too much of the year here is just too cold to support much more growth.
The flathead catfish is an introduced, invasive species in the Susquehanna and Schuylkill rivers, and most of Pennsylvania. In its native waters west of the Appalachian Mountains, in the large rivers of the Mississippi, Missouri and Ohio basins, the fish can top 120 pounds.
Sizes like that have built a constituency among some anglers and river fishing guides for the flathead catfish, a top-level predator capable of disrupting native fish population in the Susquehanna River and elsewhere. It’s believed the species has been intentionally introduced by anglers into some waters in the eastern half of Pennsylvania.
Contact Marcus Schneck at
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