Last weekend, a Tennessee angler managed to bust right through the state’s paddlefish record with his massive 120-pound catch, roughly 11 pounds heavier than the previous record-holding fish.
Just a few days ago, Tennessee native Chad Collins headed to Cherokee Reservoir, a 28,000-acre lake in Jefferson and Grainger counties. Oddly enough, this was the same spot where last April’s record-breaker, Leonard Jech, snagged his own 109-pound paddlefish, sometimes called a spoonbill or shovelbill. Luckily for Collins, the area is still ripe with monster primitive fish.
Collins’ fish was also 75.5-inches long with a 41.5-inch girth. In order to confirm that the angler had, indeed, broken Tennessee’s paddlefish record, state fisheries biologist John Hammons verified the fish’s size on April 16. Of course, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency had to give the experienced angler his credit. So, on Facebook, the agency boasted Collins’ catch to the community.
Take a look at the fantastic catch that just barely fits on the fisherman’s tailgate.
Fellow Tennessee Angler Claims to Have Broken State Record Last Season
Last year, another fellow Tennessee angler claimed to have hooked a spoonbill to have rivaled the world record, let alone the state record. Robert Livingston headed to Cherokee Lake when he surprisingly found a paddlefish on the other end of 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 recalled, according to WBIR.
The angler managed to pull the massive catch onboard.
“It was barely hooked, just a small portion of its cheek,” he said. “Get it in the boat and I grab it and the hook actually falls out into the water.”
“You can only catch them by accident unless you snag them,” Livingston explained. “This one, it just swam by and caught my hook right in the corner of its mouth.”
The Tennessee angler estimated that the fish weighed roughly 150 pounds, since that’s what he can lift over his head in the gym. This is also one pound less than the world record and 41 pounds more than the state record. He also guessed that the shovelbill was six feet long. Unfortunately, because Livingston released the fish before having someone officially measuring it, he’ll never know whether the fish truly broke any records.
But according to the fisherman, it doesn’t really bother him all that much.
“It’s there swimming around so maybe one day somebody else will catch it,” he said.
For all other Tennessee anglers, the moral of the story is to get measurements before releasing your catch and always cast your hooks in the Cherokee Reservoir if you’re looking for record-breaking paddlefish.