A fisherman in New York who was told he had caught a state-record white catfish now doesn’t know what to think after several experts were left puzzled over the identity of the catfish, prompting them to send the fish in for DNA analysis.

Fishing in the Mohawk River, Chris Brockett of Loudonville landed what was originally thought to be a white catfish, which are relatively rare in New York. The catfish weighed 12 pounds and measured 30.5 inches, New York Upstate reported.

Brian Canzeri, a state conservation officer, witnessed the catfish being weighed on a certified scale and noted it beat the current white catfish record of 10.5 pounds, caught by Joe Silicato in 1998 at New Croton Reservoir in Westchester County.

A State Department of Environmental Conservation fisheries biologist agreed with Canzeri’s assessment, but the next day, another DEC staffer determined that it might be a channel catfish instead, because it had 27 rays on its fins.

From New York Upstate:

Channel catfish get bigger have narrower heads; sharper forked tails, blackish chin barbels (whiskers) – and have 25 to 28 rays, while a white catfish has 22 to 25 rays. The rays are the flexible, fleshy parts of the fin between the spines that control the fin movements.

Brockett’s fish, Canzeri said, had a whitish belly; a wider, bullhead-like head, a shallow fork in its tail – and upon initial glance, a total of 24 rays. In his opinion, it was a white catfish.

Wanting a second opinion, the DEC took the frozen fish to the New York State Museum where two ichthyologists examined it. Neither were able to reach a conclusion after counting the rays six times and coming up with four different numbers.

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It was borderline whether it was a white catfish or channel catfish. So the fish was sent away for DNA analysis, which could take several weeks to complete.

“It’s weird,” Brockett told New York Upstate. “It’s a mess. I just want to know what the hell it is.”

Photos courtesy of Chris Brockett.

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