Fly fish angler reels in potential world-record blue catfish in Texas river

Texas angler caught massive catfish in Pedernales River

Angler Ben Christensen caught a 31.55 pound blue catfish on a size 10 Gamakatsu hook, with 12-lb. Rio Bass tippet and a Scott Flex 4-weight fly rod. (Ben Christensen)

A Texas angler has reeled in a potential world-record blue catfish.

Ben Christensen, of Johnson City, caught the 31.55-pound river monster on Oct. 11 with a 4-weight fly rod, which he says is typically unsuitable for catching fish over about five pounds.

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Christensen, who posted his massive catch on his Instagram pearlsnapflyfishing, told KSAT he used his years of experience to reel in the catfish in the Pedernales River, despite the small fly rod.

“I have caught a lot of big fish and know how to keep the rod and my knots from breaking by being careful with the reel’s drag and the angle of the fly rod,” Christensen said. “The rod tip was bent over almost double during the whole fight.”

“I was casting an olive-colored variation of a creek damsel fly my son had tied up the night before. It’s a fly he designed called the Chips ‘N Salsa, because every fish wants to eat it,” said Christensen.

According to the International Game Fish Association, the catfish might be a world record holder. Currently, the 12-pound tippet record for a blue catfish is a Florida fish that weighs in at 26 pounds, 4 ounces - significantly less than Christensen’s catch.

“This catfish is definitely a personal best,” Christensen said. “This one surprised me, because catfish are usually holed up along the river’s bottom, and can be hard to catch while fly fishing.”

Texas Parks and Wildlife officials with the Inland Fisheries San Marcos/Austin District said the catch is pending the water body record for the Pedernales River.

Christensen said he kept the fish “because, after a fight of 40 minutes, I was pretty certain it would perish. Even though it is old and the flesh not prime for eating, we filleted it thin for deep frying.”

He said he typically releases fish back into the river but not always.

“Catch-and-release is a hot-button debate in fly fishing,” Christensen said. “I have caught some big, big fish from the Sabinal River in Lost Maples State Natural Area, to my home waters in the Pedernales and everywhere in between. I have released every single one of those fish until this catfish.”

The angler is currently writing a book titled Fly Fishing San Antonio and the Texas Hill Country, which is due out in Sept. 2023. It will be part of the Local Angler series which launched with the award-winning Fly Fishing Austin and Central Texas by Aaron Reed.

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