by Ron Presley
Catch-Photo_Release (CPR) has become the code word for many trophy catfish anglers. CPR is one thing that any recreational angler or tournament angler can do to help insure a population of trophy catfish for future generations.
In January, 2017, Jeff Avey followed his personal principles with respect to trophy catfish. He CPR’ed a giant blue catfish at the cost of personal gain. He does not consider his actions a burden, but rather a responsibility.
Avey caught what would have been a Maryland State Record. The previous record of 84 pounds was set back in 2012 on the Potomac River. Avery was using a Big Cat Fever, MH rod when he hooked and landed an 85 pound Potomac River monster.
Blue catfish are on the invasive species list in Maryland, and angers are encouraged by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to remove and kill any blue and flathead catfish they catch.
As stated on the DNR website, “Catch and release of these fish is discouraged, as they are invasive top predators and pose a serious long-term threat to our native species.” As a result of the invasive species designation, a blue catfish must me killed to be certified in the record book as a state record.
“Avery chose to take a photo and release the fish to fight another day,” said a Big Cat Fever Rods spokesman. “Mr. Avey is a great example of conservation and selective harvest. For that we have the upmost respect!”
Avery chose to forgo the state record in favor of CPR. “It would have been great to be in the record books,” stated Avey. “But, it was not worth it to me. I’ve been fishing the Potomac for 20 years and hunting these monster cats for 5. It is the only place I know of where you can catch a trophy consistently. I’d like to keep it that way.”