Arkansas Angler Breaks State Paddlefish Record

Arkansas Angler Breaks State Paddlefish Record

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A Northwest Arkansas fisherman has shattered the state record for paddlefish, hauling in a 127-pound, 6-ounce giant from Beaver Lake.

Mike Schleeper of Garfield was trolling for striped bass Saturday morning when he hooked the massive fish. His catch handily surpasses the previous state record of 118 pounds set in 2020.

Schleeper described the unique fight, noting how the paddlefish's behavior differed from the stripers he usually targets. The battle lasted 45 minutes, with Schleeper and his fishing partner, Tom Mayberry, having to follow the fish with their trolling motor for a significant portion of the fight.

The anglers faced an unexpected challenge when they realized their net was too small for the enormous catch. After some creative problem-solving, they managed to secure the fish with a rope and hoist it aboard.

Jon Stein, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission fisheries supervisor, explained that this record-breaking catch is part of a recent trend of large paddlefish being landed in Beaver Lake. These fish are the result of stocking efforts conducted between 1990 and 2000.

Paddlefish, among North America's most ancient species, feed on plankton and are seldom caught on traditional baited hooks. Their presence in Beaver Lake has created a unique trophy fishing opportunity for anglers.

In response to the growing interest in paddlefish, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission has introduced a new regulation. A limited, permit-based snagging season will be allowed in a specific section of Beaver Lake from mid-April to mid-June, coinciding with the upstream movement of these prehistoric giants.

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