A Tennessee angler fishing Cherokee Lake in northeast Tennessee caught a paddlefish on Thursday, April 13, that is not only a state record for the species; it is the largest fish ever caught in Tennessee.
Henry Dyer, of Kingston, Tenn., snagged his monstrous 149-pound paddlefish while fishing with guide Brian Townsend. The fish taped out to more than 6 ½ feet in length, with a girth of more than 3 ½ feet around. It was longer and heavier than the man who caught it.
Dyer snagged this fish with heavy spincasting gear spooled with 80-pound test line. He told WTVC ABC that it took 35 minutes to battle the fish to the boat.
Paddlefish, also known as spoonbill, are a large zooplankton-eating species. They won’t chase lures or live bait, so anglers typically snag them. Paddlefish season in Tennessee runs April 24 through May 31. The daily limit is two fish per person with no size restrictions, except on specially regulated bodies of water.
Dyer’s new state record replaced the existing record of 120 pounds, which was caught from Cherokee Lake on April 14, 2022 by Chad Collins. The world record paddlefish on rod and reel weighed 164 pounds and was caught from Oklahoma’s Keystone Lake in 2021. An Iowa spearfisher reportedly stuck and landed a 198-pound paddlefish in 1916.
Prior to Dyer’s catch, the largest fish ever caught in Tennessee was a 130-pound blue catfish landed by J.C. Collins at Ft. Loudoun Lake in 1976.
For more giant fish, see coastalanglermag.com.