White catfish catch in Connecticut could break world record, but the evidence has been eaten

Ben Tomkunas, 25, caught the 21.3-pound fish late at night in Coventry on Aug. 21. It was longer than 3 feet.

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Ben Tomkunas holds a catfish he caught in Coventry, Conn., on Aug. 21, 2021, that has smashed a state record and could also be a world record for the species — though the evidence now has been eaten.

Ben Tomkunas holds a catfish he caught in Coventry, Conn., on Aug. 21, 2021, that has smashed a state record and could also be a world record for the species — though the evidence now has been eaten.

Chris Braga via AP

A white catfish caught in Connecticut last month has smashed a state record and could also be a world record for the species — though the evidence has been eaten. 

Ben Tomkunas, 25, caught the 21.3-pound fish late at night in Coventry on Aug. 21. It was longer than 3 feet. 

Connecticut Fish and Wildlife confirmed in a Facebook post that the catch was a white catfish and that it easily broke the previous state record for the species of 12.7 pounds (5.76 kilograms). 

“We were just sitting back and drinking a couple of beers and next thing you know, my reel just starts screaming like I had a 30-pound striper on there,” Tomkunas, of Coventry, told the Hartford Courant.

Tomkunas’ friend, Chris Braga, had a digital scale and took a photo of the fish coming in at the record-breaking weight.

The International Game Fish Association has recorded the world record for a white catfish catch to be 19.3 pounds (8.75 kilograms) for a fish caught in 2005 in California. 

White catfish are one of several species of catfish in Connecticut, and officials said they scrutinized this catch to confirm it was not a channel catfish, which are generally larger. Other species of catfish, like blue catfish or catfish found in Asia, can dwarf the white catfish. 

Tomkunas said he intends to submit a claim to the association to secure the new world record. But he also told the newspaper that he gave the fish to his grandfather the next morning. 

“It kind of got eaten,” he said.

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