These giant Mississippi state catfish weigh over 100 pounds, but how old are they? –

They are truly giant fish; two Mississippi state record blue catfish weighing over 100 pounds caught this year.

And how quickly these fish can reach weights like that may surprise you.

On April 7, Eugene Cronley of Brandon was fishing on the Mississippi River close natchez. Within minutes of settling in, he had hooked the largest blue catfish ever to him.

After a 30-minute battle, he landed a 56.6-inch long fish with a 41-inch girth. She weighed 131 pounds and set a new state record for blue catfish with conventional tackle.

Four months later, it seemed as if lightning had struck twice. On July 31, Christopher Halley of Brookhaven was also fishing the Mississippi River near Natchez. He went jogging late in the day. When he checked his lines the next morning, he pulled out a blue catfish unlike any he had ever encountered.

The fish weighed in at 104 pounds and set a new state record in the Trophy Division, which is a category for fish caught by means other than conventional tackle or a fly rod.

Brandon’s Eugene Cronley caught a Mississippi state record blue catfish weighing 131 pounds in 2022. The fish was determined to be 20 years old.

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How long does catfish live?

Halley said there was speculation on social media that the fish were 100 years old or older, but to some, that may seem like a stretch. After all, if the fish were 100 years old, it would have been born when Warren G. Harding was president and fishermen drove Model T Fords.

So how old are these giants? Well, the answer may surprise you. The fish was aged by the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fish and Parks and Cronley’s was 20 years old and Halley’s was around 14 years old.

“They called me last week and told me how old I was,” Cronley said. “I was surprised.

“I thought it might be a little older. I figured around at least 30, but I don’t know anything about the ages of the fish. He gained a lot of weight in 20 years. She was eating pretty well.”

Halley said he wasn’t surprised by his fish’s age, but he also thought it was older.

“I thought maybe 30 years, but that was a guess,” Halley said. “I thought 30 years was the maximum. That was just a guess based on what other anglers have said.”

Jerry Brown, MDWFP director of fisheries, said most catfish that age don’t come close to that.

Brookhaven’s Christopher Halley caught the Mississippi state record for blue catfish in the Trophy Division with a 104-pound fish in 2022. The fish was determined to be about 14 years old.

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Age of fish determined by otoliths

“It’s common to see nine or 10 year old blue cats,” Brown said. “Some have been documented as long as 25 years. That’s the oldest I’ve ever heard of, 25 years.”

Brown said the ages of flathead catfish, another species popular with anglers, are similar. He said that among those who have aged, the average is around 12 to 14 years old, with the oldest example he knows of being 24 years old.

The way the ages of the fish were determined is very similar to counting the rings on a tree trunk. Brown said there is an ear bone called an otolith and it grows in layers. Brown said that otoliths are placed under a microscope and the layers are counted to determine a fish’s age.

How these fish reach such enormous sizes in those time periods is tied to food resources.

“Obviously, in the Mississippi River they have a lot to eat, so they can get to that size,” Brown said.

Contact Brian Broom at or 601-961-7225.

This article originally appeared on the Mississippi Clarion Ledger: Authorities determine the ages of giant catfish that weigh more than 100 pounds

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