Fort Mill native Mitchell McConnell was fishing in Greenfield Lake in Wilmington, N.C. when earlier this month, and he broke the Tarheel State’s brown bullhead record with a 4-pounder he caught with live bait.

McConnell, who is 19-years-old and attends Cape Fear Community College, is an avid angler, and has caught a variety of saltwater and freshwater fish. He said he rarely passes up an opportunity to fish, so when he had a few hours to spare after class on March 14, he headed to Greenfield Lake in hopes of catching a few fish. 

He was fishing near the lake’s dam when he caught what he thought was a flathead at first, but upon closer inspection, he recognized it as a bullhead, but wasn’t sure which species of bullhead. North Carolina has five species of bullheads, which are difficult to distinguish from each other.

Mott’s Seafood in Wilmington weighed the fish on certified scales, then McConnell had District 4 fisheries biologist Michael Fisk check it out. Fisk certified the catch as a brown bullhead, and congratulated McConnell on the new state record, as his 4-pounder beat the previous record by 4 ounces.

If you catch a sizable bullhead catfish that doesn’t quite break the record, you can still have it recognized through the North Carolina Angler Recognition Program, which recognizes catches that do not qualify for state record status, but are standout catches nonetheless. Bullhead catfish that measure over 15 inches in length and weigh 2 pounds or more qualify for the Recognition Program. 

Click here to read about North Carolina’s record blue catfish.