World's largest blue catfish to be on display

ALTON, Ill. — It sounds like the sort of tale Mark Twain might have cooked up: A man fishing in the Mississippi River hauls in a blue catfish roughly the size of a sixth-grader.

But this is no fish story. Early Sunday, Tim Pruitt caught a 124-pound blue catfish.

To get a sense of just how big that is, the state record was a mere 85 pounds and the world record tipped the scales at 121½ pounds.

Pruitt is expected to submit documentation to the International Game Fish Association so that it can be certified as the new all-tackle standard.

His fish already has been weighed in the presence of a conservation police officer and measured by a biologist for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

Once approved as the world's largest blue catfish it would eclipse the current champion that was caught Jan. 16, 2004, in Lake Texoma, Texas, according to Becky Reynolds, a spokeswoman for the association.

Pruitt's fish, measuring 58 inches long and 44 inches around, was swimming below the Melvin Price Lock and Dam on the Mississippi River here on Saturday night when it grabbed Pruitt's line.

The two struggled for more than 30 minutes, and at one point the fish dragged the boat carrying Pruitt, his wife and a friend before Pruitt could reel it in.

The fish has been kept alive and will be on display in a tank at the Cabela's Outfitter store in Kansas City, Kan., according to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. (The mammoth catfish later died in transit.)

Pruitt, 33, of Godfrey, Ill., told the Peoria Journal Star's outdoors columnist that he considered releasing the fish in the river but decided to donate it to Cabela's "because I thought it might be neat to give people a chance to see a fish that massive."