ELEPHANT BUTTE, NM - The sixth state record fish caught in New Mexico in 1999 was a blue catfish caught by Tubby Oldfield of Elephant Butte on June 13. Oldfield used a trotline baited with a waterdog.
The record blue catfish weighed 33.5 pounds and was 39.5 inches long. Its girth was 27 inches. Oldfield^s blue catfish replaced a 29-pound blue caught at the Butte in 1996.
Distinguishing blue catfish (Ictalurus furcatus) from channel catfish (Ictalurus punctatus) is very difficult, said Ernie Jacquez, New Mexico Department of Game and Fish fisheries manager for the Southwest Area. Although colors can be different, especially during the breeding season when male blue catfish do turn blue, it^s better to count anal fin rays. The average channel catfish has 29 anal fin rays, and the average blue catfish has 34 anal fin rays.
Oldfield also held the channel catfish record until April, when Julie Kulhan of Eagle Nest broke it with a 36-pound, 8-ounce channel catfish from Stubblefield Lake.
So far in 1999, records have been set for lake trout, smallmouth bass, channel and blue catfish. The rainbow trout record was broken twice. A largemouth bass large enough for a state record was captured this year as well, but it was not recognized as a state record because it was not caught by a legal angling method.