Skip to Content

How Big Do Blue Catfish Get? (Average and Record Sizes)

How Big Do Blue Catfish Get? (Average and Record Sizes)

While not as abundant as channel cats, blue catfish are undoubtedly America’s biggest catfish species. 

These monsters lurk in many river systems and are extremely popular among catfish anglers, both for their enormous size and raw strength. 

But just how big do blue catfish really get?

While the average size of blue catfish is between 25 and 40 inches and 5 and 30lb, these behemoths can reach a maximum size of 65 inches and 150 lbs. The biggest catfish ever caught is a giant of 143 lbs and 57 inches.

Want to find out more about the size of the incredible blue cat? Then all you have to do is keep reading!

What Is the Maximum Size of Blue Catfish?

Blue catfish (Ictalurus furcatusare by far the biggest type of catfish in North American waters. In fact, fully grown blue cats are regular giants!

They can reach a maximum length of 60 to 70 inches and maximum weights of 130 to 150 lbs. That’s gigantic! 

Additionally, there are plenty of large specimens, as many states have record fish well above the 100-pound mark.

Here is a list of some of the US’s biggest state-record blue catfish, just to give you an idea of the size of those monsters:

Virginia143 pounds
Mississippi131 pounds
Missouri130 pounds
Illinois124 pounds
Texas121 pounds
Alabama120 pounds
Tennessee118 pounds
Arkansas116 pounds
California113 pounds
Georgia111 pounds
South Carolina 109 pounds

What Is the Average Size of Blue Catfish?

a US angler holding a nice blue catfish of about 20 pounds

Because catfish are so abundant and widely distributed, their average size varies considerably. Broadly speaking, blue cats have an average size of about 25 to 40 inches and 5 to 30 lbs. 

However, the average size of any population in any given water body depends on many factors. These can include the following:

  • population size
  • populations genetics
  • habitat size
  • habitat type (running or still water)
  • water temperature
  • turbidity
  • food abundance
  • food competition
  • predation
  • fishing pressure

Naturally, some waters have a larger average size of blue catfish, while others have a significantly smaller one.

And so, while the average blue cat can weigh 20 to 30 pounds or more in some rivers, other water bodies might hold fish with an average size of 10 pounds or even less.

DID YOU KNOW: There are reports of giant blue catfish of more than 350 pounds that were caught in the Mississippi River during the late 1800s. The question is: how accurate were the scales back then?

What Is the Biggest Blue Catfish Ever Caught?

The biggest blue cat ever caught actually holds several records at once! It’s both the Virginia state record fish, the biggest blue catfish ever caught in the US, and the official All-Tackle world record catch.

Additionally, this fish also holds the 50-lb line class world record. What an achievement, especially considering its massive size.

This behemoth weighed in at an incredible 143 lbs and measured 57 inches. With a smashing 44-inch girth, it must have been an extremely fat and round fish. 

It was caught on Kerr Lake (Virginia) by sport angler Richard Nicholas Anderson in 2011. 

Richard caught the monster on a trusted Shakespeare Ugly Stick Catfish Rod, one of the best rods for giant cats. 

How Big Is a Trophy Blue Catfish?

two anglers on a boat showing off their big blue catfish
By U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Headquarters, CC BY 2.0

Most catfish anglers would agree that a trophy blue cat starts at 50 pounds.

With all the blue giants being caught, one would assume that it must be fairly easy to haul in a 50-pounder, but that’s not the case at all!

Trophy-sized blue catfish are relatively rare, as they are slow-growing fish. Furthermore, blue catfish are abundant in many water bodies, meaning that plenty of small cats will usually find your bait before the big guys arrive.

So yes, a 50-pound blue cat can undoubtedly be called a true trophy catch!

RELATED READING: Best Landing Nets for Catfishing

How Fast Do Blue Catfish Grow?

a female angler on a pier holding a juvenile blue catfish
By Virginia State Parks, CC BY 2.0

Compared to many other freshwater fish species, blue catfish grow fairly slowly, at least during their juvenile stage. 

After their first year, they typically grow to 4 to 6 inches.

Their growth rate is about 2 to 4 inches annually until they reach sexual maturity at age 4 to 7

That means a 5-year-old blue cat is approximately 12 to 22 inches long and can weigh anything from 1 to 5 pounds.

What’s especially interesting about this catfish species is that its growth speeds up as they age. Usually, it’s the other way around when it comes to fish. 

The older and bigger they get, the faster they grow! And that’s a good thing. Otherwise, those 100lb+ fish would be older than God! 

And so, while they are still relatively small at around age 5, by the time they are 10 years old, blue catfish can weigh approximately 10 to 14lb and measure 28 to 32 inches.

Around age 15, they can have a length of 35 to 42 inches and weigh between 18 and 35lb. 

Then, at age 20, their growth rate is really going through the roof! At this age, blue cats can have a weight of 60 to 80lb and measure 50 to 55 inches.

Remember, though, that these sizes can vary greatly from river to river!

How Old Do Blue Catfish Get?

The average life expectancy of blue catfish is 8 to 12 years, and most big specimens live to an age of around 20.

The oldest-ever recorded blue catfish was caught in the Mississippi River. This fish was estimated to be 25 years old, which is exceptionally old for this species.

On the other hand, only a few of the giant blue cats that have been caught have been thoroughly examined. So, no one really knows how old these monster fish really are!

Related Articles

Featured image courtesy of Phil Colburn