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World's largest blue catfish
expires after capture         
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[MAY 26, 2005]  ALTON -- The largest catfish ever caught was landed in Illinois last weekend but died while being transported by employees of a store, which had planned to put the fish on display.

Bethalto fisherman Tim Pruitt caught the blue catfish at around midnight on Saturday.

The blue catfish weighed 124 pounds. It was 58 inches long and had a girth of 44 inches. It was the largest catfish ever caught in Illinois and the largest blue catfish ever caught in anywhere in the world. The previous Illinois record catfish was 85 pounds, and the previous world-record blue catfish was 121 pounds, 8 ounces.

"That part of the Mississippi River is full of fish," said Mike Conlin, director of resource conservation for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. Pruitt was fishing below the Melvin Price Lock and Dam at Alton. Conlin describes Pruitt as a longtime hobby fisherman.

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"I don't know if there's another fish quite that big down there, but there are certainly more very sizable catfish in that same region," said Fred Cronin, Department of Natural Resources district biologist. "The fishing is just spectacular right now. It's certainly not unusual pull 50-pound catfish out of those waters."

The cause of death of the record-sized fish is undetermined.

[Illinois Department of Natural Resources news release]

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