A Lawrence man reeled in a 62-pound flathead catfish just after midnight Tuesday in the Kansas River.
Travis Fager is an avid fisherman, according to his sister. Fager surprised his son, his usual fishing partner, with the catch early Tuesday.
Though any fish over 60 pounds demands some respect, fellow Lawrence angler Josh Hackathorn said it’s not uncommon to find catfish pushing 70 or 80 pounds near the Lawrence section of the river.
“They can move up from the Missouri River when the river’s high,” Hackathorn said.
As the rivers rise, the fish will follow the current upstream, he said. These scale-tipping catfish will continue upstream until they reach the Bowersock dam, near where Massachusetts Street crosses the river.
“They can’t get up over the top of the dam, so they congregate at the dam,” he said. “They get all stacked up right behind it.”
Hackathorn, who has been fishing the area for over two decades, said that around this time of year, he’ll start to see fishermen coming from other areas to fish this specific section of river.
Flathead catfish typically start to spawn a few weeks into June, Hackathorn said, so the male fish are bulking up and are at their heaviest.
“Right now is your pre-spawn sweet spot,” he said.
Hackathorn, whose fishing partner recently caught an 87-pounder near the Bowersock dam, said Fager’s catfish is still a great catch.
“It’s a nice fish. It’s respectable. But they definitely get bigger,” he said.
According to the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism, the state record for a flathead catfish is 123 pounds.