Major congrats to Tennessee’s own Henry Dyer, the Kingston resident who just raised the bar for future paddlefish anglers. Mr. Dyer is now the state record holder for largest paddlefish ever caught in our state after wrangling a truly massive paddlefish in Cherokee Reservoir of Cherokee Lake on April 13, 2023.
Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) officials confirm the state record paddlefish, which outweighs the previous Tennessee champ by almost 30 pounds and is the largest fish of any species ever caught in the Volunteer State.
“When I snagged that thing, I thought I’d hung on a stump, and then, all of a sudden, it just took off,” Dyer tells local WTVC. “I was in the back of a boat, and it was everything I could do to hold on to it.”
At 149 pounds and measuring 79 5/8-inches in length and 44 3/8 inches in girth, Mr. Dyer’s paddlefish is also confirmed by TWRA to be the largest fish of any species ever caught in Tennessee. How’s that for a trophy?
The Stats: Henry Dyer’s Tennessee Record Paddlefish
|Paddlefish Anglers & Records||Weight||Length||Girth||State|
|Henry Dyer, Current TN state record holder||149 lbs.||79 5/8 in.||44 3/8 in.||TN|
|Chad Collins, Previous TN state record holder||120 lbs.||75.5 in.||41.5 in.||TN|
|Grant Rader, World Record Paddlefish||164 lbs.||n/a||n/a||OK|
Nestled between Knoxville and the Great Smoky Mountains, Cherokee Lake is known for world-class bass fishing. It’s also the site of the previous TN record paddlefish angled by Chad Collins in April of 2022 (above). Mr. Collins’ fish was certified by TWRA fisheries biologist John Hammonds.
“BIG FISH ALERT! Tennessee angler Henry Dyer of Kingston with the new STATE RECORD paddlefish from Cherokee Lake! 149 lbs., 79 5/8” length, 44 3/8” girth,” TWRA lauds of Dyer’s record-smasher on social.
Mr. Dyer’s state record falls short of the world record, however. That 164 pound giant was caught by Grant Rader in Oklahoma’s Keystone Lake in 2021. Regardless, Dyer possesses ultimate bragging rights in our home state as the angler of the largest fish of any species ever caught in any TN body of water.
‘I’m a little feller, and that fish weighed more than me’
Dyer tells WTVC that it took over half an hour and a lot of help from a friend to get the fish onto his boat.
“I’m a little feller, and that fish weighed more than me,” he laughs. “Old Big Boy” is Dyer’s fitting moniker for this record-breaking beast. He’s has also donated his trophy to TWRA for research purposes. Hopefully, as the largest fish ever caught in TN, it will receive taxidermy treatment and go on display for the public.
As for fishing the species here, anglers can only catch one paddlefish per day. No length limit is in place. Another common name is the spoonbill, and the species is related to sturgeons, another large and ancient fish.
Currently, American paddlefish (Polyodon spathula) are Vulnerable (VU A3de ver 3.1) on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Populations have declined dramatically as a result of overfishing and habitat destruction, so catch and release is always preferable.