An angler got a little more than he bargained for in early April while fishing for walleye in the Upper White River in northwestern Arkansas. Fishing 12-pound-test line and a 3-inch-long crankbait, Robert Murphy accidentally snagged a 102-pound paddlefish and spent the next hour battling the fish from his kayak.
In April, the Upper White experiences spring runs of several species into the riverine sections of Beaver Lake, including white bass, walleye and paddlefish. Paddlefish, also known as spoonbill, are a large zooplankton eating species. They won’t chase lures or live bait, so anglers typically “snag” them during Arkansas’ paddlefish snagging season. The daily limit is two fish per person.
Murphy might not have intended to snag a paddlefish, but that’s exactly what he did. According to Outdoor Life, Murphy was throwing a 3-inch Berkley Flicker Shad for walleye when he saw a big fish on his sonar. Thinking it was a big striped bass or a gar, he ran his 10- to 12-foot-diving plug through the area and hooked his river monster in the top of the tail.
Anyone who has ever foul-hoked a fish knows how hard they fight when you can’t turn their head. Well, Murphy spent the next hour battling the beast from his kayak as it pulled him up and down the river. After he finally hauled it into his kayak and brought it to shore, he weighed and measured the fish. With a length of 71.5 inches, it was nearly 6 feet long, and at 102 pounds, it was shy of the 118-pound, 9-ounce state record that was caught from Beaver Lake in 2020.
For more information, see www.agfc.com.