70 Year-Old Fishing Record Voided by State

In a move that surprised the late fisherman’s family, the late Ray Groves is being stripped of his state record. For 70 years Groves’s 55 lbs. channel catfish was the official South Dakota state record, but that standing has been nixed after an informal poll of fish biologist and fish identification experts identified the fish in pictures as a blue catfish.

According to the Angus Leader, Ray Groves’s channel catfish record, which was set on May 18, 1949, and stood until last Friday, a single day short of holding the record for 70 years.

That’s when South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks voided the record, stating officially what many people had believed for some time: Roy Groves had not caught a record-breaking 55-pound channel catfish. He’d caught an impressive 55-pound blue catfish.

Groves’s family is pushing back against the decision. In a Facebook post Groves’s great-grandson stated.

The South Dakota Game Fish and Parks is taking away my Great Grandfather’s state record away because they don’t think by looking at a picture it is a channel catfish. They think it is a blue. The channel record was around 50 lbs. He caught a 95 lb blue record at the time. I saw it mounted when I was a kid. I would think he would know the difference!


Geno Adams, fisheries program administrator for Game, Fish, and Parks issued the following statements to the Angus Leader.

“Since day one there’s been questions,” he said. Multiple emails and calls come into the department, all saying “you know that’s not a channel catfish.”

Experts in fish identification all agreed, Adams said, that the photo was of a blue catfish.  He also added the weights of the state records of the surrounding states, Nebraska is 41 pounds, 8 ounces. Iowa’s is 38 pounds, 2 ounces. North Dakota’s is 42 pounds, 1 ounce. (For comparison, the world record channel catfish was caught in South Carolina in 1964 and weighed 58 pounds).

“There’s just a lot of information that doesn’t line up to make that a channel catfish,” said Adams. “And in the last few years, it just became overwhelming.”

What is interesting is that Game, Fish, and Parks voided the record — instead of simply giving it to the next largest fish. Which means that there is currently no record book channel catfish in South Dakota, so if you want a state record start fishing. I am sure it will be broken many times over the next few years.