Missouri Angler Catches 140-Pound State Record Paddlefish

mo_paddlefish_record_fAndy Belobraydic III landed a massive 140-pound, 9-ounce paddlefish last Saturday at Table Rock Lake near Branson, Mo., after battling the fish for nearly 30 minutes. His catch bests the previous 139-pound paddlefish state record also caught at Table Rock Lake in 2002, the Missouri Department of Conservation confirmed Monday.

Belobraydic's record setting paddlefish measured 56 ¾-inches long with a girth of 43 ¾-inches. The current world record paddlefish weighed 198 pounds and was caught at Lake Okoboji in Iowa in 1916.

"I told my buddies to take a picture of it in the water," Belobraydic told the Sedalia News Journal, adding "because I knew if I couldn't get it in the boat, no one was ever going to believe this."

It was Belobraydic's first excursion for the game fish after being talked into making the trip by his friends. It had been a successful day for Belobraydic even before landing the record setter when he caught two paddlefish, one of which he released because it was too small.

Belobraydic then hooked what he initially thought was a log. However, it quickly became clear that this was no log. As the mammoth paddlefish surfaced one of Belobraydic's friends turned to him and repeated the classic line from Jaws, "You're going to need a bigger boat." Fifteen minutes later, Belobraydic landed the monster. The fish was then taken to a local hatchery to have it weighed on a certified scale.

This latest record is an encouraging sign for the paddlefish population in Missouri as the species continues to recover under the Missouri Department of Conservation paddlefish management strategy. The popular game fish's population has struggled as channelization, levee construction, drainage of bottomlands and overharvesting diminished its sustainable habitat. To maintain the population the MDC incubates eggs and raises the fry each spring at a hatchery and releases the young paddlefish at Table Rock Lake, the Lake of the Ozarks and Truman Lake.

A tip for those thinking about going after paddlefish at Table Rock Lake: Bring a big boat.

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