Ohio Teen Catches 101-Pound Pending State Record Blue Catfish on Jugline

by Vern Evans

On April 7, 15-year-old Jaylynn Parker of New Richmond, Ohio pulled in a 101-pound, 56-inch blue catfish on a jugline from a creek behind a family friend’s house. The Outdoor Writers of Ohio, a non-governmental organization of outdoor media professionals that maintains the state’s fish record database, is currently deciding whether to name the fish as the formal state record. 

Parker was juglining with her dad, Chuck, and family friend Jeff Sams on a tributary of the Ohio River behind Sams’ house. It was Parker’s turn to check the lines, and when she did, she discovered that a blue cat weighing almost as much as her was on the other end, her tells the Cincinnati Enquirer. Her dad and Sams helped her haul the fish in. 

“The older I get, the more joy [fishing] brings me,” Parker says. “It’s so relaxing. It brings me so much peace and happiness.”

Every store with a certified scale was closed on the Sunday afternoon, so the Parkers took the fish home and kept it in a bait tank tied to a dock on the lake in their backyard. On April 8, they drove the fish to Bethel Feed and Supply for certified measurements. The blue cat officially weighed 101.11 pounds and measured 56 inches in length and 39 inches in girth. 

The family then successfully released the fish, Parker’s mom Kristen wrote in a Facebook post. Once it wriggled back into the murky depths, Parker and Sams leapt into the water in celebration.

The catch raised a bit of a firestorm on social media over Ohio’s juglining rules and how the record system mixes float-line records with rod-and-reel records. One commenter on a post in the OWO Facebook page tried to accuse the Parkers and Sams of juglining illegally, since Ohio regulations require that juglines be “attended at all times.” But the Parkers and Sams tied their juglines off to a bankline rather than leaving them free-floating, DNR inland fisheries program administrator Scott Hale tells Outdoor Life. Under the same state regulations, banklines must be checked once every 24 hours. The anglers also attached identification to the jugs in keeping with state law. 

“Juglines are legal when you tend them in some fashion and have identification attached to them,” he says. “That part’s straightforward.”

OWO vice president Jeffrey Frischkorn chimed in on Facebook, calling the catch legal.

“It must be emphasized that the fish was legally caught, not illegally taken as you maintain,” Frischkorn says. “You might not believe that jug line fishing – which does require surveillance as noted on page 15 of the current Ohio fishing law digest – is worthy of being an acceptable means of catching fish, but the Ohio Division of Wildlife disagrees. Only if the law permitting this activity is changed can OWO alter our policy of accepting applications for state record fish either as being hook-and-line or bow fishing.”

The Parkers called DNR to confirm the catch. Game wardens checked all their gear and confirmed that the jugs were marked with their names and addresses. But Hale says that the OWO’s Record Fish Committee is still determining whether this fish will count or not.

“We’ll see what the OWO committee decides, but with any luck, we’re celebrating a new blue catfish record,” he says.

More debate sprung up over whether a fish caught on a jugline should be recognized alongside Ohio’s rod-and-reel records. As OWO member Chip Hart wrote in the organization’s Facebook page, the Committee recognizes a separate bowfishing category, and discussion of a separate jug and trotline category will come up at the OWO conference this month. 

“I would be hard pressed … to think anyone would disagree with the need to establish a new category,” Hart wrote. “In late April, this will be taken up by the membership at the annual conference. In the meantime, there should only be praise for the young lady and the family that caught the fish.”

The OWO did not immediately reply to a request for comment on Parker’s pending record fish.

Read Next: Two Kentucky Anglers Pull a Massive, 94-Pound Blue Cat Out of the Ohio River

The current Ohio blue catfish record is 96 pounds and 54 ½ inches in length. Chris Rolph of Williamsburg caught the fish on the Ohio River on June 11, 2009.  

“It’s been several years since it was broken,” Hale says. “If this fish ends up being the record, it will probably be a long time before it is broken as well. Fish this large are very old and pretty rare.”

A correction was made on April 15, 2024: A previous version of this article stated that the anglers used a free-floating jugline to catch the blue catfish in question. It has been updated to reflect that the anglers instead tied the jugline to a bankline, which they checked periodically.

Read the full article here

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