MDC presents plaque for state record flathead catfish

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Kansas City
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Kansas City, Mo. – The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) on Nov. 6 presented Mathew McConkey with a plaque honoring his catch of a 100-pound flathead catfish, a new state record for alternative fishing methods. McConkey caught the behemoth flathead on a trotline on Sept. 19 from the Missouri River offshore from the city of Riverside, a burg close to downtown Kansas City.

"It's awesome," he said. "I've fished hard for it, and this is probably the fish of a lifetime."

The Missouri River is producing giant catfish. On the same day that McConkey caught his record flathead, another angler entered in a rod-and-reel catfish tournament caught a 99-pound blue catfish upstream of Kansas City, said Jake Allman, MDC fisheries management biologist. That fish is not a record because another angler caught a 130-pound blue catfish on pole and line in 2010, and this year a 120-pound blue catfish set a new alternative methods record for that species.

The elimination of commercial fishing for catfish in the Missouri River starting in 1991 boosted the production of big flathead and channel catfish, Allman said. The population of blue catfish has increased in the river since the massive floods of 1993 and flood plain mitigation efforts that followed created new spawning habitat.

MDC this year began an extensive catfish study in the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers, Allman said. Plus MDC crews doing research on endangered pallid sturgeon have monitored all fish species in the river. The research will help MDC manage a healthy catfish fishery to benefit anglers.

McConkey, 38, of Kansas City, is one of the anglers taking advantage of the Missouri River's big-fish fishery. He's started catfishing in the river 18 years ago along with family members in the Brunswick, Mo., area, and he's fished in the Kansas City area for five years. This autumn, he's got a fillets from a 100-pound flathead in the freezer and plans to put a replica of a state-record fish on his wall.

"I've caught a lot of fish in the 50- to 70-pound range," McConkey said. "But this flathead just blows me away."

For a listing of Missouri's state record fish, visit

More information about Missouri's great fishing is available at