Man Catches New State Record 69.9 Pound Flathead Catfish In Santa Rosa County

September 1, 2020

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has certified a new state record flathead catfish caught in Santa Rosa County.

The fish weighed in at 69.9 pounds, measured 48.5 inches long and had a girth of 38.25.  Angler Lavon Nowling caught the fish on a rod and reel using live bait in the Yellow River.

“I’ve caught some good ones before this fish, but none of them were more than 54 pounds,” said Nowling. “I’ve been fishing since I was old enough to hold a pole and have been fishing on Yellow River as long as I can remember.”

Nowling brought his catch to the FWC’s Blackwater Hatchery near Holt, where biologists weighed it on a certified scale. The last state record flathead catfish was caught in 2019 on the same river. That fish was caught by Marvin Griffin and weighed 69.3 pounds.

“I’ve been deep sea fishing to creek fishing and I never expected to catch a state record fish,” said Nowling. “That day I was fishing for channel catfish and can’t believe I caught a huge flathead. I was in the right place at the right time.”

Flathead catfish are a nonnative fish found in many northwest Florida Panhandle river systems. Flatheads prefer long, slow flowing, moderately turbid rivers. Their solitary lifestyle makes them more difficult to catch than other catfish. Adult flathead catfish feed primarily on live fish, crawfish, freshwater clams and mussels.

“A state record catch is a once in a lifetime achievement for an angler,” said Jon Fury, FWC’s Director for the Division of Freshwater Fisheries Management. “We are pleased to award this state record to Mr. Nowling.”

To properly certify a new freshwater Florida state record, an FWC employee must witness its weighing on a certified scale and a biologist must identify the species.


8 Responses to “Man Catches New State Record 69.9 Pound Flathead Catfish In Santa Rosa County”

  1. Not a fisherman on September 2nd, 2020 10:56 am

    @ Jason Ward
    A quick google search found this…(I was curious as well)
    The native range of the flathead catfish includes a broad area west of the Appalachian Mountains encompassing large rivers of the Mississippi, Missouri, and Ohio basins.

  2. Nice on September 2nd, 2020 12:41 am


  3. jason ward on September 1st, 2020 5:26 pm

    where are flat head catfish native too

  4. Resident on September 1st, 2020 4:37 pm

    “Steve”….if you go saltwater fishing and catch a 70# grouper are you going to let it go? Myself I fish to eat. Spending as much money as it cost to fish now a days catch and release is not an option . “Good Fishing”

  5. Resident on September 1st, 2020 4:08 pm

    “Steve”….per FWC rules and regulations..” Upon catching a NON NATIVE species to our river system you are actually suppose to consume or dispose of. Just saying…Congrads on the catch that’s a good fish fry there. David’s won’t have nothing on that.

  6. Adam on September 1st, 2020 3:11 pm

    Way to go!!!!!!Hope you catch many more

  7. steve on September 1st, 2020 3:06 pm

    I hope he let it go back. There is no reason to eat something this old.

  8. Alan on September 1st, 2020 9:29 am

    Congrats, Mr Nowling. That thing is huge.

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