SPRINGFIELD, IL (KPLR) - An Illinois fisherman has a whale of a story, and it’s no fish tale. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources credits Jim Klauzer with catching the biggest flathead catfish in state history. The weekend catch weighed 81 pounds and 6.4 ounces, and came out of Sangchris Lake in Springfield.
“I was just out there to hang out with a friend and put a few fish in the freezer,” said Klauzer.
When the fish bit his line, he knew it was big. He also knew his net would not handle a record-breaker.
“I pulled him in with my hands,” said Klauzer. “They’ve got a big boney jaw and it’s almost like a grip.”
That was only half the challenge. In order to qualify for a state record, the fish must be weighed alive. It was the weekend, and Klauzner had no idea how to reach someone with the Department of Natural Resources.
“They’re telling me I probably have to wait until Monday to register this fish,” said Klauzner.
He credits strangers and friend at Big Red’s Bait Shop for helping him transport the fish in a makeshift pond to a registered scale and a DNR biologist. After the record was official, Klauzer drove the fish back to the lake, and released it.
“Finally the realization came that I have a state record,” said Klauzer.
He will receive a plaque and a certificate and believes all the attention will inspire others to enjoy fishing.
When asked how often he fishes, Klauzer answered, “Whenever I can.”