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CASPER – Dallas Stanton of Glenrock not only shattered the Wyoming flathead catfish record April 18, he tangled with three big fish that day and one might have even been bigger than the new state record.

Fishing in the North Platte River at the Dave Johnson Power Plant east of Glenrock that morning, Stanton had what he estimated was an 18-pound catfish at water’s edge before it flopped off. Then around noon, he hooked the new 22.46-pound state record flathead and landed the 34-incher after a 30-minute battle. On the very next cast, he hooked another fish he was confident was even bigger as it broke his 10-pound test.

If a bout of going three rounds with probably over 60 pounds of whiskered power wasn’t improbable enough, it happened when Stanton was casting a Little Cleo, a spoon-like lure, for brown and rainbow trout.

“I thought the fish were browns to start with because they both fought hard and deep,” Stanton said.

He also thought the big catch was a channel catfish, as he took it to show his son-in-law Cody Heimsoth. The fishing buddies agreed the fish was noteworthy and Stanton alerted the Game and Fish Department he was bringing it to the Casper office.

Fish Biologist Paul Mavrakis was expecting a channel catfish, too, but confirmed the first flathead he’d seen in his nine years in Casper was also a new state record.

“I always wanted to get a state record, but kind of hoped for something a little prettier,” chuckled Stanton about the darkly-mottled behemoth.

With the new record flathead, Stanton also contributed to the G&F’s knowledge about this relatively new Cowboy State visitor. In 1993, the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission salvaged 133 8- to16-inch flatheads from irrigation canals and donated them to the G&F for release in the North Platte River below Glenrock. Some Nebraska flatheads were also stocked near Torrington.

In the late 1990s, Mavrakis and Nebraska biologists electrofished the Torrington area but didn’t find a single flathead. Other sampling near the power plant also failed to discover flatheads.

He believes Stanton’s fish was one of the original imports. The only other flathead biologists had documented was the former state record, a 3.74-pounder caught in the North Platte River near Glenrock on Sept. 2, 1995.

“Obviously at least a few have found the Dave Johnson Power Plant to their liking,” Mavrakis said. “But it still isn’t known if there has been any successful reproduction over the years.”

He said the flathead has a squaretail versus the deeply forked tail of a channel catfish. Flatheads are typically darker and prefer live food.

In the hundreds of fishing outings to the power plant, it was also the first flatheads Stanton had seen. Since the record-breaking day, Stanton learned from fellow power plant anglers of other flatheads being caught, including a 12-pounder.

The 22-year power plant employee has no intentions of hanging his rod and reel up after hooking the new record. He believes he can break Wyoming’s 24.19-pound channel catfish record, too. He’s caught a lot of channels up to 15 pounds and reports from divers repairing power plant structures have him convinced more records are lurking in the pools.

Due to Wyoming’s cool water and short growing seasons, breaking the North American flathead record of 123 pounds is unlikely. But so was hooking three probable state records on an artificial lure on one April day. That North American record fish was caught in Kansas in 1998.

For now, Stanton’s record with a 23-inch girth is filling up his freezer. He’d like to have it mounted but is having difficulty finding a taxidermist experienced in mounting catfish.



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