PHOTOS: Tennessee Anglers Land Prehistoric Paddlefish After Being Towed Over a Half-Mile

by Jon D. B.

Two Tennessee gents pulled in the catch of a lifetime while fly fishing the Caney Fork River: a monster of a paddlefish that dragged their boat over half a mile before giving in.

Middle Tennessee anglers Matt and Jason set out to catch striped bass on the Caney and ended up with far more than they bargained for. And as of this trip, Jason has some catching up to do.

As for Matt, he may not have caught the monster bass he was looking for, but he did hook one of the most elusive and ancient of all fish found in the state (or anywhere, for that matter). He knew he had something massive on the line, too, as something pulled him along for a half-hour. By the time the fight was over, Matt & Jason were over half a mile from where the beast was hooked.

Then, the prize revealed itself. Matt pulled in a 5-foot-long – 55-pound goliath of a paddlefish! The pair snapped several photos with their prize, then sent the prehistoric beast back from whence he came.

Lauding their momentous catch, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) posts to Facebook asking: “Is that a dinosaur?

“Matt and his friend Jason were fly fishing for Striped Bass on one of Middle Tennessee’s infamous rivers, the #CaneyFork, when Matt hooked into an unexpected fish,” TWRA says before citing the details above.

As for their “dinosaur” jest, TWRA adds that “The American Paddlefish are prehistoric fish that can grow over 5 feet long, weigh as much as 200 pounds, and live beyond 30 years.”

Tennessee Anglers’ Paddlefish is a Phenomenal Prehistoric Catch

In addition to the Caney Fork River, these gargantuan freshwater fish “can be found throughout the Mississippi River Drainage and generally inhabit large rivers like the Tennessee and Cumberland rivers,” the organization concludes.

Check out Matt & Jason’s incredible angle for yourself below, courtesy of TWRA’s official Facebook:

Is That A Dinosaur? Matt and his friend Jason were fly fishing for Striped Bass on one of Middle Tennessee’s infamous…

Posted by Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency on Saturday, May 8, 2021

Look at the size of this beast! Paddlefish are a remarkable, ancient species that were once populous apex predators. Unfortunately, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service details that American paddlefish range from endangered to threatened across most states. Their historic range has been greatly limited due to habitat loss, pollution, and over-fishing.

Those that survive east mostly plankton, small fish, aquatic vegetation, and even various animals unfortunate enough to be smaller than the paddlefish and within/around their waters.

Local WBIR Channel 10 also ran a short feature on the friends’ catch, highlighting their triumph. It’s worth a spin for any fellow anglers (like this author and wildlife tech) looking to land a prehistoric paddlefish for themselves someday.

Cheers and well done, fellow Tennessee anglers Matt & Jason!