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Illinois-record flathead: It’s a really big catfish

James Klauzer came into Big Red’s Bait and Tackle Friday night and said he “is going to catch some flatheads.’’

Did he ever, as in the Illinois record flathead catfish of 81.4 pounds from Sangchris Lake, a cooling lake southeast of Springfield. It surpassed one of the top fishing records in Illinois.

“He came in here last night and got hooks and swivels and he said he is going to catch some flatheads; and he did,’’ said Trevor Miller at Big Red’s in Springfield.

Early Saturday morning, Klauzer asked Miller where to find a certified scale. About 3 a.m., Klauzer had caught a massive flathead.

Miller knew Pete Ochs, who runs the Open Buddy Catfish Tournament on Lake Springfield, would have Illinois Department of Natural Resources contacts.

So they reached Ochs.

Near midday Saturday, August 29, 2015, Klauzer and his flathead met witnesses, including assistant IDNR fisheries chief Dan Stephenson, at Midstate Meat Co. in Springfield.

For a fish that big, Paul Donelan, who owns Midstate Meat with his wife, went to his plastic deer sled. Then they hoisted the flathead on the sled up on a scale, which was certified to 150 pounds, outside.


The fish had been kept alive in what looks like a horse trough with a bubbler.

“He looked good,’’ Donelan said.

After weighing and certifying, the fish was taken back to Sangchris and released.

That’s what I go so far.

It took me back to interviewing Jody Harris in the spring of 2014 at the ranger station at Carlyle Lake. On Carlyle Lake, on the Friday evening of Aug. 11, 1995, Harris caught his Illinois-record 78-pound flathead, a record that stood for more than 20 years.

The most vivid thing I remember Harris saying was “I did not think [the record[ would last this long. I know there are bigger fish out there.”

He was right. It just took a couple decades to prove.

More to come.