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Missouri couple catch apparent world-record catfish

By Adam Blank, CNN
Greg Bernal with the record fish. Its vitals: 130 pounds, 57 inches in length, 45 inches in girth.
Greg Bernal with the record fish. Its vitals: 130 pounds, 57 inches in length, 45 inches in girth.
  • The 130-pound blue catfish beats the world record by 6 pounds, an official says
  • "It hasn't hit me yet, I'm still in shock," fisherman Greg Bernal says
  • Only some paperwork stands in the way of an official world record
  • "He'll be considered royalty in the fishing world," store manager says

(CNN) -- All hail to the king and queen -- of catfish.

Greg Bernal of Florissant, Missouri, and girlfriend Janet Momphard of St. Charles, Missouri, on Tuesday hauled what is believed to be a world record catfish into their boat while fishing on the Missouri River.

The monster blue catfish weighed in at 130 pounds and was 45 inches in girth and 57 inches long, Dan Zarlenga, a spokesman for the Missouri Department of Conservation, said Tuesday.

"It hasn't hit me yet. ... I'm still in shock," Bernal said Tuesday.

Bernal, 47, said he was about to call it a day when he decided to give it one last shot. "We threw the rod in, and about 30 minutes later, that rod took off," he said. "I just put the pressure on him and tried to work him up towards the surface. His head broke the water and man, that was it, I knew I had a record breaker," Bernal said.

Jim Blair, who keeps a state-certified scale at his feed store in New Melle, was notified Tuesday morning by the Missouri Department of Conservation that a couple may have caught a state record catfish and they needed to use his scale to get an official weight.

"My scale is inspected every year, it's certified by the state," said Blair.

Before the catfish was put on the scale, Momphard said it had to at least weigh more than 120 pounds, because it weighed more than the generator Bernal kept in the back of his truck.

"Him and his girlfriend were jumping up and down because when it went over 100 pounds, they knew they had a state record, but when it went up to 130 pounds, they was really excited," said Blair.

"He'll be considered royalty in the fishing world."

Although several official witnesses were on site when the scale read 130 pounds, the International Game and Fish association still has to sign off on whether a world record has been broken. Tim Pruitt of Godfrey, Missouri, holds the official world record. He reeled in a 124-pound catfish in May 2005, in the same general area of the Missouri River, according to Zarlenga.

And for those of you curious about the so-called honey hole where Bernal caught this monster fish? Sorry, he isn't talking.

"Back in 1995, I caught the Illinois state record catfish -- a blue that weighed 79.12 pounds," said Bernal. After that, he said, everybody knew who he was and started tracking his every move. "I had to cut the running lights on my boat one time because I had boats following me."

Zarlenga says Bernal's keeping quiet about the exact location is understandable, but he expects to see more people fishing the general area along the Missouri River for their dream catch.

Bernal is keeping the catfish, for the time being, in a friend's deep freezer. "I'd like to see if one of the stores is interested in making a replication of it, like Bass Pro Shops or Cabela's," said Bernal.

Meanwhile, he's catching up on sleep and hopes to celebrate soon with a couple of cold beers.

"I've been fishing for the monster my whole life ... by chance, he came by to my hook and I actually got him. I was just lucky, but I'm not going to argue with it, that's a world record," Bernal said.