State-record channel cat caught in Mississippi River

Thirty-pound catfish fell for gizzard shad beneath Greater New Orleans Bridge.

When Mike Richardson actively began fishing for river cats approximately two months ago, he didn’t have any illusions of setting a state angling record in the process.

But it appears that’s exactly what he’s done.

Richardson, who lives in Harvey, landed a 31-pound, 2-ounce channel catfish underneath the Greater New Orleans Bridge on Sept. 27.

He was about to clean the fish, but thought twice and decided to bring it to Lacombe where the catch was classified as a river (channel) cat by Louisiana Department of Wildlife & Fisheries agent Ronnie Ruth, Richardson said.

The angler then brought the fish to Kenney’s Seafood in Slidell, where it tipped the scales at what will be a record weight if confirmed by the Louisiana Outdoor Writers Association, which keeps track of such records.

Richardson landed the 39 ½-inch long fish from the rocks on the west bank of the Mississippi River. It was caught on 20-pound test Berkley Big Game line and a Gamakatsu 7/0 Octopus circle hook using cut gizzard shad on a Carolina rig. He estimated he was fishing in about 75 feet of water.

“I’d like to say it put up a good fight, but it was so old and decrepit; it fought for about one minute, then it came to the top,” Richardson said. “I pulled it right in.”

Richardson began fishing for river cats after a friend began catching them in the Intracoastal Canal. After he found that area to be inconsistent, Richardson moved to the river.

He had trouble with snagged lines there until an acquaintance mentioned the area underneath the GNO Bridge. Richardson said he has totaled an average of 80 to 100 pounds of cats daily since he relocated there.

“This was a hobby until about three weeks ago,” Richardson said. “I bought a (commercial) license figuring if I was going to do it for fun, I might as well make a little money too.”

The current record for a river catfish in Louisiana is held by Harold W. Clubb, who in August of 1977 landed a 30.31-pound fish in Minor’s Canal off the Intracoastal.