Arkansas fisherman pulls 165-pound paddlefish onto shore: ‘Fish of a lifetime’

Arkansas fisherman pulls 165-pound paddlefish onto shore: ‘Fish of a lifetime’

An Arkansas fisherman brought ashore a large, 165-pound fish from Beaver Lake — but not with his rod and reel.

The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC) shared news of the catch on its Facebook page describing the fisherman’s heroic efforts to save the fish.

The AGFC’s Facebook read that the “paddlefish was hit by a boat prop and had its soft spinal cord severed.”

The fisherman, Bo Johnson, notified the AGFC of his discovery and revealed how he found “a large paddlefish that was hit by a boat on Beaver Lake,” Jon Stein, district fisheries supervisor at the AGFC, told Fox News Digital.

The Arkansas native swam out to recover the fish after he found it floating in the water, the AGFC shared on Facebook.

Once brought onto shore, the paddlefish weighed 165 pounds and measured 75 inches long from the tip of its paddle-shaped rostrum to the end its tail, according to Fox 24 KFTA in Arkansas.

While this size could constitute for a state record, the fish does not fit the qualifications because it was hit by a boat and not caught with a fishing rod, Stein commented.

Even though it was not officially “caught,” the AGFC still considers this catch to be “a fish of a lifetime,” the news station reported.

The current state record in Arkansas for the largest paddlefish ever caught was certified in 2020 at Beaver Lake. The catch weighed 118 pounds.

“Paddlefish are native to the Mississippi River drainage and that includes hundreds of tributaries to the river,” Stein shared.

“There is a good naturally reproducing population in the Arkansas River as well,” he added.

Paddlefish were stocked in Beaver Lake from 1990-2000 by the AGFC, Stein continued.

Paddlefish have very few bones and are predominately made up of cartilage like sharks, instead of a hard structure, making them “prehistoric,” Fox 24 stated.

Paddlefish are heavily stocked in lakes because biologists and anglers have noted how quickly these species can grow in reservoirs, Stein added.

The current world record for the largest paddlefish caught with a hook and line was in an Oklahoma reservoir in 2021. The fish weighed 164 pounds, Fox News Digital reported at the time.

“Beaver Lake has a small population of very large Paddlefish, and AGFC is looking into allowing a snagging season in the future,” the AGFC stated.