Angler’s family upset after South Dakota fish record voided

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — The family of an angler whose catfish held a South Dakota record for nearly 70 years is upset that state wildlife officials voided the record.

Roy Groves caught the 55-pound (24.9-kilogram) fish in 1949. The fish originally was identified as a channel catfish, but South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks voided the record Friday, saying Groves actually caught a blue catfish, not a channel catfish.

Groves’ great-grandson, James Labesky, told the Argus Leader that his mother and his grandfather had shared stories about Groves’ fishing exploits, but he had never heard about the record being disputed.

Labesky said in a Facebook post that South Dakota wildlife officials are taking away the record because they don’t think it’s a channel catfish by looking at a picture.

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“Seems like they’re just looking at a picture of it and showing it to some fish specialists,” he told the newspaper.

He added in the Facebook post that his great-grandfather “would know the difference.”

But state Fisheries Program Administrator Geno Adams said fish identification experts agreed that the photo was of a blue catfish.

Differences between the two fish can be subtle, with a primary one being whether a fin on the underside of the catfish is flat or curved.

“There’s just a lot of information that doesn’t line up to make that a channel catfish,” Adams said.

He said the department does not “look at this lightly.”

“We understand this is a big deal to a large amount of people,” Adams said.

State Game, Fish and Parks officials are calling the quest for a new record “Catrush 2019” and expect the mark to be broken several times over the next few weeks.

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Information from: Argus Leader, http://www.argusleader.com

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