Man catches 139 pound paddlefish in Missouri lake.

spectr17

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Man catches 139 pound fish in Missouri lake.

03/16/2002

Cape Fair, MO (AP) -- Wayne Russell isn't exaggerating when he talks about the size of his lattest catch.

The paddlefish he pulled from the waters of Table Rock Lake yesterday weighed in at 139-pounds and four ounces. That broke the previous record, set in 1998, by nearly five pounds.

It was the 56-year-old DeSoto resident's first time out for paddlefish. And it took him only about half an hour to snag the fish.

Officers from the Department of Conservation confirmed its weight on a certified scale.

The fish was kept alive, and Officials with the American National Fish and Wildlife Museum, Wonders of Wildlife, in Springfield came to take a look. They had hoped to display the fish in an aquarium. But the creature's mouth and gills were too badly injured.

Instead, the record-breaker will be mounted for display.
 

StringShooter

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A local television station in St. Louis did the story the other day. However, they failed to mention the weight of the fish and never mentioned that it was a record. That was an improtant fact that they failed to mention. Made me wonder why they even did the story.
 

spectr17

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State-record snag puts 139-pounder in the bag

Tim Renken Of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch

03/22/2002

Wayne Russell's first efforts at paddlefish snagging went pretty well on opening day of the Missouri season March 15.

Russell, 52, of De Soto, somewhat reluctantly went snagging on Lake Table Rock with brother-in-law Jim Skyles, Cadet, Mo.

"They've been after me for years to go with them, but I just never found the time," he said.

Snagging is hard work. Snaggers jerk the rod again and again as the boat trolls along with the lines trailing behind. There is no lure and the fish don't bite. They are simply snagged on large treble hooks.

Russell and Skyles had been at it about an hour that Friday morning when Russell snagged something heavy. After 20 or so minutes of hard labor he and Skyles landed a spoonbill almost as big as them.

It weighed 139 pounds 4 ounces, was 82 1/2 inches from the tip of the spoon to the end of the tail and was 42 1/2 inches in girth. It was a Missouri record for the species. The previous record was a fish of 134 pounds 12 ounces caught from the Lake of the Ozarks in 1998.

The world record via snagging is 142 pounds 8 ounces from the Missouri River in Montana in 1973.

Russell donated the fish to the new Wonders of Wildlife Museum adjacent to the Bass Pro Shops in Springfield, Mo.

Was that experience enough to make a snagger out of him?

"We're going again in a week or two," he said. "So I guess I'm a snagger now. For a while, at least."

Paddlefish often are called spoonbill catfish, but they aren't a catfish or even related to the catfish. They are an ancient species that, like sharks, have no real bones, not even a backbone. Instead, they have a dense cartilage.

Once common throughout the Mississippi drainage, the fish declined drastically with the construction of dams. Restoration efforts, primarily by the Missouri Department of Conservation, has brought them back to the point that limited harvest is now allowed.

Russell's fish was probably stocked into Table Rock as a fingerling in 1973.

For years people believed the large paddle was used to stir up bottom sediment by a fish that eats only microscopic animals floating around in the water. Nobody, however, had actually seen them stirring.

Then, in the early 1990s, University of Missouri-St. Louis biology professor Lon Wilkens found that the paddle is actually an antenna whose leading edge holds thousands of super-sensitive electro detectors.

Wilkens' work showed that paddlefish, guided by this ancient but high-tech device, swim to and capture the tiny crustaceans that give off a faint electric current.

In a perfect world, the fish's name would be changed in light of Wilkens' experiments and Russell would hold the Missouri record for not paddlefish but antennafish.
 
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