The state record flathead catfish weighed 78 pounds. It was caught in Carlyle Lake in 1995. A number of large flatheads have been caught in the 20 years since, and DNR has decided to take steps to protect a fish that tends to live a long life and grow quite large in Illinois waters.
According to DNR, regulations implemented this year regulates the harvest of flathead catfish on the Fox River from the Wisconsin border through the Chain O' Lakes to the mouth at the Illinois River, including the Fox River tributaries. The new rule allows harvest of 1 fish per day 28 inches or larger and 2 fish between 13 and 28 inches.
DNR posted the new regulations this week.
"The Division of Fisheries is concerned about the overharvest of this large fish species," DNR's statement read. "Because flathead catfish are so long-lived, overharvest damage to the population might not be noted for many years and recovery could take decades, so the Division of Fisheries is taking these steps to be proactive in their management."
Elsewhere in the state, DNR is cooperating with the states of Indiana and Kentucky on regulations for the Wabash and Ohio rivers. The new flathead rule is 1 fish per day 35 inches or larger and unlimited harvest between 13 and 35 inches.
There is no harvest of flatheads under 13 inches allowed in any of the three rivers.