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Colorado angler lands new state record channel catfish: 43 pounds, 6 ounces


A 20-year-old is Colorado's newest fishing state record holder after landing a 43-pound, 6-ounce channel catfish estimated to be about the same age as the angler who caught it.

Jessica Walton of Aurora, Colo., landed the lunker whiskerfish at Aurora Reservoir on Oct. 4. The scale-tipping fish is the largest channel catfish caught in Colorado and the third state record taken from the reservoir in 15 months.

A novice angler who had landed just two fish in her life prior to her record catfish, Watson told the Colorado Division of Wildlife that she was overwhelmed and "shocked" by her achievement.

"When I first picked up the rod and started reeling I thought I was snagged on a rock," said Walton, who was using a night crawler, egg sinker and 20-pound test line. "I pulled again and that's when the fish just took off. I reeled some more, and the fish came towards the surface -- that's when we saw how big it was and I just started shaking."

The fish measured 40 1/2-inches in length, with a 28 5/8-inch girth, and was more than 7 pounds heavier than the previous 35-pound, 8-ounce record fish, caught by Daris McKinnon at Aurora Reservoir on June 28. Prior to Walton's and McKinnon's records, Aurora resident Mike Stone landed a 35-pound catfish from the reservoir on July 26, 2009, breaking a 15-year state record set in 1994 by John McKeever at Hertha Reservoir.

"Based on the fish's length, we estimate its age to be around the 15- to 18-year mark," said Division of Wildlife aquatic biologist Paul Winkle, who manages the fishery. "Therefore, it's very likely that this fish is close to the same age as the angler who caught it."

Walton landed her prize catch after 10 minutes with the help of her boyfriend's parents, John and Eva Clark. Although he wasn't present when Walton caught her record fish, the angler credited her boyfriend, Chris, for supporting her interest in fishing.

"I have to admit, Chris was pretty upset at first when he heard that I was the one who caught the state record, because he puts so much time into fishing and it's his favorite thing to do," Walton said. "But he's also happy for me because he's the one who taught me how to fish. Before I met him, I was the typical 'girly-girl' who was afraid to put the worm on my hook."

Walton said she hasn't decided what to do with her record fish, but is considering getting it mounted to preserve the memory of her once-in-a-lifetime experience.

-- Kelly Burgess

Photo: Jessica Walton and her state-record channel catfish. Credit: Colorado Division of Wildlife

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Comments (17)

To those who believe that whatever I did with the catfish was my decision, thank you. To those who believe that anything other than catch and release was a "sin", screw you. Premaritial sex is a sin, adultery is a sin, and so is keeping a fish?? To those who congratulated me, thank you again. I was and still am very proud of that record, and even to this day still brag about it. The rest of you, do you really have to frown upon whatever decision it was that I made? Because the last time I checked, it was exactly that.. My decision.

For those who care, and probably see it as a sin... I didn't catch an release. I may have been somewhat of a girly-girl, but even country girls can be girly and I am definitely that. I ate it, if you were wondering. Because country folks like a fishfry, did you really expect much else?!

"This is why you don't take girls fishing"?? Why, is someone upset that a wee little lass caught a bigger fish than you?

This is why you don't take girls fishing!!!!

It is not a sin to do what You want with a fish.
As commented by one individual.
It is not a shame to You.
You do what You wish with Your fish.
It belongs to You.
It is not a sin because You did not release the fish.
It probably might of died of old age anyway.
You hold the record.
Some People are never satisfied.
They have to comment negetive to be happy.
Some try to make You feel guilty and to be
They should be ashamed of themselves.
Posting negative and awful comments.
Be happy and thankful to Christ Jesus.
Congrats and hoping that You be blessed
alot more. Great Job.

Congrats to You. Great Job.
Never mind the brats that have the nasty comments.
You can do what You want with Your fish.
One Person says that He catches big 50 to 60 pound
cat fishes . Ya right. Why is His catches in picture
and made known. Bunch of hipe.
Never mind Your Boyfriend.
You caught it. You were blessed.
Thank Jesus.

Wow!!! Great catch. If it came from the Aurora Reservoir, I'd mount it, but not eat it!!!

It has something to do with "heavy metals," that were dumped in the area; many, many years ago.

Good for her! My boyfriend of 4 years also taught me to fish and I'm 56. I would totally freak if I caught something that size. I catch and release, but I believe it's a personal preference. Your fishing license doesn't state you release after you catch. Hunters, whether they hunt deer, quail, dove, elk, whatever, surely don't sho0t and let go! Leave the girl alone...unless you're going to congratulate her. And on that note...Congrats, Jessica, you can come fishing with me anytime! I'm proud for you!

I see nothing wrong with mounting that once in a lifetime catch. Bill Dance releases more "whoppers" than most people could ever hope to catch in their life. My daughter caught a 15 oz "hand paint" bluegill in Florida at age 8. It's hanging on her bedroom wall. Young lady, I hope you catch many more like you did this one. By the way, fried catfish is the best!

What a bunch of mamby pambies ! so what if she wants to mount this catfish, that is her choice. it's not like these things are going extinct anytime soon you bunch of jackwagons !!!!

Its funny how people worry about fish but when it comes to worrying about what their kids watch on tv or what their being taught in school they are silent. Thats the real shame!!


her 3rd fish! keep it, mount it and enjoy it I am a strong believer in c&r but it sounds like this body of water is doing just fine... at least for the cats! great job girl and keep fishing! I am in Wisconsin and have been having great luck with large walleyes this last month 6 over 26 inches and yes I kept one just under 30 the same night I lost one that was well over that, I use light tackle and will be able to look at the one that is at the taxidermist and remember the best fall fishing of my life, she should be proud and by her smile I think she is! stop being jealous people she got the state record, GOOD JOB!

Just because she says she is considering mounting the fish, does not mean that she did not release it....it is very near to impossible in this dayand age to find any trophy makers who will do a skin mount of a fish, it just doesent happen much anymore,not with the technology we have.... skin mounts dont last long and are of a very poor quality compared to the fake mold models we see today.....all that is needed to get a molded mount made, is a few pictures and a few accurate measurments............at least, I hope that is the case....it would be a sin to kill a fish of this size and to ruin the chances of anyone else being able to catch it in the future and perhaps break the future record with the same fish!!!!

Wow!!! That was a great catch. Congrats. It is to bad that you did not release it so someone could catch it again. I take a camera, hand scale, and tape measure as part of my fishing gear. Total price under $20.00. I caught a 43 1/2 lb Flathead Catfish. I took a picture and weighted it and put it back to catch another day. My picture was in a magazine. I caught it 9/10/98 looking at it now. We eat the small fish, big ones go back. No mater who helped her catch the fish, in my book it was her catch. Good job!!!

What a shame that all these meatheads are so intent on bashing a young fisherman (fisherperson?) about a decision that they have zero rights in. Best way I know to drive future fishermen and trophy catches to silence! Had I caught this fish, she would have become smoked filets to enjoy during the holidays with football and family! I'm an old fisherman who has caught severalflathead cats in the 50-60lb. range and I enjoyed the fihing, the catching, and the eating. I was raised to subsist off the bounty of our national waters. I believe in "fair chase" and do release a goodly number of fish, anymore. BUT, I GET TO MAKE THE DECISION! God bless you, Jessica, and I hope you go catch a bigger one. Maybe we can have a fish fry, Southern Style, some time. PAPA JIM-- Twin falls, ID

What a shame she didn't catch and release this fish. Who knows what size it may have grown to or what weight it might have reached in its lifetime. Sad.

great catch! however, in the future as you catch more monsters, you may consider catch n release. If everyone caught the big ones and kept them,there will be very few monsters left for you and others to enjoy! P.S. you can still record most species and have mountings (done mostly with photos now)and release the biguns and enjoy a trophy!again, very nice catch!

Isn't that nice, she is having it mounted. This fish survived for 20 years against all perils and some fool wants to mount it on her wall. Guess its too late to catch and release, the right thing to do.



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About the Bloggers
Outposts' primary contributor is Kelly Burgess.