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'River Monster': Iowa man catches 71-pound catfish

The flathead catfish reeled in Saturday was only 10 pounds short of Iowa's record.

DES MOINES, Iowa — A flathead catfish reeled in Saturday was only 10-pounds short of matching the Iowa record first set in 1958.

Greg Sieck, owner of the YouTube channel Outdoor X Media, said he caught the massive fish in a creek off the Des Moines River.

Seeing fish this size is uncommon — but not as rare as one might think. 

The DNR website's BioNet feature shows where assessments on population have been done in the state, with flathead catfish popping up throughout a majority of large waterways, including interior streams, flood control reservoirs and the Des Moines River.

"They're an apex predator; they're a large predator fish. They take a long time to mature," said Tyler Stubbs from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources Fisheries Department. "They get very big."

Sieck's video showed him returning his catch to the water which, Stubbs said, is a choice each fisher can make individually.

"They make great table fare, so you see some of the smaller ones being kept for that," Stubbs said. "But they're something that people really chase after from a trophy standpoint and are typically released."

As long as anglers limit their river catfish totals to 15 per day, they're good to deal with the fish as they see fit, no matter the length or weight.

There's also no requirement to report large fish to the DNR, but that doesn't mean fishing experts like Stubbs wouldn't appreciate it. 

If you catch a big fish or even think you might be breaking state records, you can find more information on the DNR's Master Angler page

"There's a lot of water out there to fish," Stubbs said. "And there's a lot of fish to be caught."

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