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Jeff Bonawitz catfish record.jpg

Jeff Bonawitz, 54, of East Lampeter Township, caught a flathead catfish weighing 50 pounds, 7 ounces, unofficially setting a new state record for the species. (Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission)

(York) — A fisherman in Pennsylvania is celebrating the one that didn’t get away: a 50-pound flathead catfish that broke state records.

Jeff Bonawitz, of East Lampeter Township, tells LNP news site he was angling in the Susquehanna River in York County last month when he felt a bite that led to an over 25-minute struggle to reel the fish in.

His friend says he couldn’t believe his eyes as the fish bent the rod straight down.

Brian Bruce says “when it finally came up to the top, we thought it might be a mermaid.”

The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission says the catfish tipped the scales at 50 pounds, 7 ounces. The previous record was set in 2006 when a 48-pound, 6-ounce flathead catfish was caught in Blue Marsh Spillway in Berks County.

After the weigh-in, Bonawitz released the live fish back into the Susquehanna.