Tennessee Angler Claims He Caught Record-Breaking Fish, Threw It Back

by Atlanta Northcutt
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Is it a fish tale or an actual tale of catching a record-breaking fish?

One angler is discovering the importance of preparedness after reportedly catching a record-breaking sized paddlefish, also known as a spoonbill. Without the proper equipment, he had to release the fish back into the water.

Thankfully, cellphones make it easier to at least document these moments through video and photo evidence. However, even with videos and photos, it can’t be determined whether the catch breaks any records or not.

The Catch of a Lifetime

Robert Livingston was fishing on Cherokee Lake in Tennessee on Saturday. After several smaller catches, he and a friend were about to head back to the dock. That is until Livingston felt a massive weight pulling on his line.

“I set the hook on it and start reeling and the line goes slack. And I’m like, ‘Oh my gosh, whatever it is came off,'” Livingston told WBIR.

Luckily, the fish was still hooked, and the fight was on to finally pull it into the boat. After several minutes of battling to get it out of the water, the two fishermen could tell it wasn’t a catfish as they had originally thought.

Hanging By a Thread

“It was barely hooked, just a small portion of its cheek,” he says. “Get it in the boat and I grab it and the hook actually falls out into the water.”

Livingston explains why it is rare to catch this breed of fish on a hook.

“You can only catch them by accident unless you snag them,” he says. “This one, it just swam by and caught my hook right in the corner of its mouth.”

A Record-Breaking Fish?

Due to not being able to weigh or measure the paddlefish, it is unknown if Livingston’s catch actually broke any records. According to the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency, the state record for largest paddlefish is 104 pounds and was caught in the same lake Livingston was fishing on. The world record is 151 pounds.

However, Livingston estimates the weight of the fish was at least 150 pounds since that is the most amount of weight he can lift over his head at the gym, but the spoonbill felt heavier.

He believes it was around 6 feet long as it stretched across the 72-inch width of the boat the anglers were on.

The Massive Fish Lives on in Tennessee’s Cherokee Lake

“People keep dogging me for not taking it home, and the people who are avid fishermen are like I did the right thing,” Livingston said. “I would hate to catch the fish of a lifetime and then say, ‘Yeah, I killed it.'”

“It’s there swimming around so maybe one day somebody else will catch it,” he adds.

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