A fish caught in Melton Hill Reservoir on Thursday could break a state record, wildlife officials said.
The muskellunge, better known as a musky, was hauled in by angler Stephen Paul in the Knox County portion of Melton Hill Reservoir on Thursday evening, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency said.
The giant musky weighed 43 pounds and 14 ounces. It bit Paul’s artificial lure around 6 p.m. Thursday and provided him with the “catch of a lifetime,” the TWRA said.
The fish could break a 34-year-old state record.
The TWRA said muskellunge are a challenging fish to catch, particularly when they get older and wiser.
Paul’s friend Dylan Gano was with him to document the historic catch.
Paul said the fish unfortunately died in his net when it was landed, and that was the only reason he considered weighing it for a state record, a TWRA press release said.
“Otherwise, he says he would have released it back into the water,” the press release said.
“After the catch was made, the angler contacted TWRA Fisheries Technician Paul Shaw, who tried fervently but was unable to find certified scales near the area where the fish was caught,” the press release said. “Shaw then contacted Reservoirs Fisheries Biologist John Hammonds and Regional Fisheries Coordinator Bart Carter, who met Mr. Paul in Dandridge about three hours later to weigh and verify the new pending state record fish. They also measured the fish at 51 and 3/8 inches in length with a girth of 23 and 1/2 inches.”
The former state record musky weighed 42 pounds and 8 ounces, and it was caught in Norris Reservoir on April 27, 1983, by angler Kyle F. Edwards, the TWRA said.
TWRA Fisheries Biologist Jim Negus estimates the fish to be between 12-15 years old, but he said that Melton Hill musky have been known to reach 50 inches by 10 years of age. In comparison, a musky in Wisconsin takes about 17 years to reach 50 inches. Tennessee musky are at the southern end of the species range and consequently have a faster growth rate than northern musky do.
“The musky is an apex predator and a tremendous sport fish native to Tennessee,” Hammonds said. “They put on a remarkable fight, once hooked and are typically very difficult to catch. A musky over 50 inches in length is extremely difficult to hook and land, and is considered to be a ‘fish of a lifetime’ for most musky anglers. Congratulations to Steven on his remarkable catch!”
Once the paperwork is certified in TWRA’s Nashville office, the fish caught by Paul will be certified as the new state record.
The press release said the fish are present in Melton Hill due to TWRA’s stocking program and are placed into the reservoir annually based on availability of fish. So far, there has been no documented natural reproduction and the fishery in Melton Hill exists due to stocking efforts.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
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