Pennsylvania fishing record broken by Franklin County angler


FRANKLIN COUNTY, Pa. (WHTM)- A Pennsylvania fishing record was broken last month after a local angler managed to reel in a massive catfish from the Susquehanna River.

The Flathead Catfish caught by Michael Wherley of Franklin County broke the previous record that a Philadelphia angler set in May 2020 along the Schuylkill River.

The fish caught by Wherley weighed in to be 66 pounds and 6 ounces, almost 10 pounds more than the 56 pound and 3 ounce one caught in 2020. An official from the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) was able to record the record-setting catch after an in-person inspection of the fish.

Wherley and his friend Walter “Tommy” Clark, also of Fayetteville, were out by the Lake Aldred, section of the river near Conestoga in Lancaster County and on a 16-foot bass boat Sunday, May 14. Around 10 a.m., three out of the four rods the pair had in the water hooked fish at the same time.

“It was a little bit crazy, but we managed to start reeling them in,” Wherley said. “There was a 30-pounder, and then Tommy brought in a 45-pounder that ended up breaking the net when we tried lifting it into the boat.”

A live Rainbow Trout was baited onto a large circle hook, weighted with a 1.5-ounce sinker, and Wherley cast his heavy-duty surf rod lined with 25-pound monofilament fishing line into an estimated 50-foot-deep channel.

The third rod that caught the catfish took Wherley a half hour to reel in and after seeing it, there was one word that summed up his thoughts.

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“When it finally came to the surface, all I could think was that it was humungous!” Wherley said. “When I got the fish next to the boat, I handed the rod to Tommy, and I stuck both hands in the fish’s mouth and pulled as hard as I could to bring it aboard. We knew we had something.”

After being caught and recorded, the catfish was released back into the river.

“This is just incredible, and I’m really glad we were able to release the fish back into the river,” Wherley said. “My previous personal best flathead was 44 pounds last year. I know I’ve had bigger ones on the line, but they got off before I could get them on the boat. I’ll enjoy this record as long as it lasts, but I’m sure it will probably be broken in a year or two, if not sooner. I’m a hundred-percent certain there are even bigger fish out there.”

There are certain guidelines from the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission that fishers must follow if they are trying to set a state record, or think they caught a record-breaking fish:

  • Obtain a copy of the Pennsylvania State Record Fish Application, which is available online.
  • Comply with all rules, including having the fish weighed on a scale that is certified by the state or county. Stores that sell products by weight are required to have a certified scale. Locations such as feed mills or agriculture stores often have scales capable of weighing large fish.
  • Fish may only be released after PFBC staff have examined the fish and approved the application.
  • The completed form, including color photographs, must be notarized and sent to the PFBC.
  • The PFBC will review the application upon receipt.
  • The PFBC reserves the right to further investigate the methods used in catching a fish and the accuracy of weight and measurements.
  • The PFBC reserves the right to reject any application.
  • Anglers catching a new state record fish will receive a certificate from the PFBC and be listed on the PFBC website.
  • A list of current Pennsylvania State Record Fish, official rules and application can be found at
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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>