This monster Idaho fish was more than just a record. It was an unexpected species

·1 min read

I’ve said it a hundred times — one of my favorite things about fishing is that you never know what could happen on any given trip.

Fruitland angler Paul Newman can attest, thanks to his state-record blue catfish that has to rank as one of the most unusual catches in Idaho history.

Newman was fishing for sturgeon in C.J. Strike Reservoir on a guided trip with my friend Captain Tim Parrish, owner of Hammett Valley Fishing Adventures. But the fish he hooked that day was far rarer — a 42.5-inch catfish that weighed 37 pounds.

Newman’s catch was crowned as the new catch-and-release record for channel catfish, smashing the old record by 9.5 inches. It also would have been the new certified weight record, but Newman chose to release the fish.

There’s more to this fish story, too. About two weeks after Idaho Fish and Game announced Newman’s record, the department reclassified the catch as a blue catfish. It remains a state record and also raises eyebrows because blue catfish weren’t an official Idaho species.

Anglers commonly mistake lighter-colored channel cats for blues, but this is the first documented catch aside from a small handful of blues found by IDFG staff conducting survey work near commercial catfish operations along the Snake River.

Fruitland angler Paul Newman caught an unusual and record-sized blue catfish at C.J. Strike Reservoir.
Fruitland angler Paul Newman caught an unusual and record-sized blue catfish at C.J. Strike Reservoir.

Nobody knows exactly how this giant cat got into C.J. Strike, but one thing is certain—regardless of species, Newman’s fish is a once-in-a-lifetime trophy, and a truly rare record that may never be broken.

Congratulations, Paul, and tight lines!

Jordan Rodriguez has been fishing Idaho waters since he was a teen. Share your fish stories, adventures and questions with him at tightlinesboise@gmail.com, or visit www.tightlines208.com for the latest local fishing reports and upcoming class offerings.