May 08, 2019
A Lancaster County man broke the 13-year-old record for the largest flathead catfish ever caught in Pennsylvania last month, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission announced Tuesday.
Jeff Bonawitz, 54, was fishing with his nephew Dylan in the Susquehanna River on April 6 when he felt a bite, and then his fishing rod bent straight down.
After a 25-minute fight with the fish, Bonawitz managed to reel in a 50-pound, seven-ounce flathead catfish, toppling the previous record-holder, a 48-pound, six-ounce fish caught in 2006 in Berks County:
The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) is excited to announce a new state record flathead catfish caught on April 6, 2019, by angler Jeff Bonawitz, 54, of East Lampeter Township, Lancaster County! Read more here: https://t.co/ROInJi43sL pic.twitter.com/dT1Wa0Z3Ai— PA Fish & Boat Commission (@fishandboat) May 8, 2019
“When it finally came up to the top, we thought it might be a mermaid," Bonawitz told the Fish and Boat Commission. "I've fished the Susquehanna for years and I've never caught anything quite like it."
Bonawitz had a feeling it might be a record, so he contacted Fish and Boat Commission officials to arrange an in-person identification and examination of the behemoth. The state record fish application was approved this week.
The record-setting fish is the fourth time a record has been broken this decade, and is the first record-breaking catch since 2016, when a two-pound yellow perch was caught in Erie County. Suffice to say, this one’s a little more exciting.
You can find a full list of the state record catches here, at the Fish and Boat Commission’s website.