NEW YORK (WWTI) — The state record for the largest channel catfish was broken on May 8 by a Watertown fisherman, according to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

Bailey Williams from Watertown was using cut bait while bottom fishing in the Black River in Jefferson County when he reeled in a 35-pound, 12-ounce channel catfish. The catch surpassed the previous State record catfish by 9 ounces, which was caught from Lake Ontario in 2017.

According to the DEC, channel catfish are the largest catfish that live in New York. They feed primarily on the bottom at night and are most easily caught using live bait such as worms or baitfish. When hooked, catfish can provide a challenge for even the most experienced angler. 

Williams submitted details of his winning catch as part of DEC’s Angler Achievement Awards Program, which tracks State-record fish. Anglers can enter freshwater fish that meet specific qualifying criteria and receive official recognition of their catch and an embroidered patch commemorating their achievement, through the program. The three categories that make up the program are: Catch and Release, Annual Award, and State Record.

DEc Commissioner Basil Seggos highlighted Williams’s catch and the recognition the program provides.

“New York has an abundance of quality habitat that supports healthy fish populations and provides outstanding angling opportunities, and Mr. Williams’ catch is a great example,” Commissioner Seggos said. “I encourage those fishing in New York to check out the Angler Achievement Awards Program before your next fishing trip. It’s an exciting program designed to recognize sizable catches and shed light on where quality fishing opportunities exist around our State.”

The full list of New York State Freshwater Fishing Records can be found on the DEC website.