Rick Stoner received a big surprise while fishing for walleyes near the Stillwater Lift Bridge in downtown Stillwater on June 15 — emphasis on big.
The 57-year-old Hudson, Wis., resident hooked a 49-inch flathead catfish that weighed nearly 38 pounds. Stoner, who was fishing with his son Jeremy, 38, of New Richmond, Wis., needed about 35 minutes to land the fish — largely because he was using light walleye tackle and a leech with six-pound test line.
The fish was measured then weighed on a digital scale and although the catch may have been a line class record, there are many steps required to get it certified and there was no chance of that after Stoner released it safely back into the river.
“It was fun to catch,” Stoner said.
In his research, the largest flathead catfish Stoner could find caught on six-pound test line was 33 pounds.
Large catfish lurking in the river is not a huge surprise, however, when you consider the St. Croix produced the state record 70-pound flathead in 1970.