RALEIGH, N.C. - There's a monster blue catfish out there in Badin Lake and he is surviving to get even larger.

Eric Fincher of Mount Pleasant knows it, because he caught and released the record-breaking catfish, certified at 89 pounds and four feet, four inches long, in the Stanly and Montgomery counties reservoir.

"I brought him in and pretty much went into shock," Fincher said. "He was too big for the net, but I told my wife I had to get him in the boat, he was a record setter. And somehow, we did."

Unable to find certified scales that afternoon, Fincher took the giant blue catfish to his father-in-law's house, where he made a makeshift holding tank by damming a nearby creek. That was Nov. 25.

On Nov. 27, certified scales were located and Lawrence Dorsey, a fisheries biologist with the Wildlife Resources Commission, was on hand to make things official. Fincher used an Eagle Claw medium rod with an Abu Garcia 6500 reel, fishing a live shiner at 18 feet in a 43-foot depth, on 15-pound test line, while trolling for striped bass.

"The next day, Nov. 28, I took him back to the lake and he swam right off," Fincher said. "I'm confident he's still in there and getting bigger."

The previous record of 85 lbs, caught at Lake Norman, was set in 2004.

To qualify for a state record, anglers must have caught their fish on a hook and line, must have their fish weighed on a certified scale witnessed by one observer, have the fish positively identified by a qualified expert from the Commission and submit an application with a full, side-view photo of the fish. For a list of all freshwater fish state records in North Carolina, visit the Commission's Web site, www.ncwildlife.org.