State Record Fish Part 1

Published 8:09 am Monday, June 10, 2019

Anyone who has ever picked up a fishing rod and reel has had the same dream at least once in their life. We all want to catch a record-breaking fish.

We want to catch that giant bluegill, carp, walleye, trout, crappie, drum, catfish or goldfish that people have tried to catch for years but have failed. 

We dream about catching that wise old fish that has seen hundreds of lures, spinners, plugs, and baits dangled in front of him but is still free to roam his body of water and watch as his legend and girth both grow with each passing day.

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Or, we want to catch that million-dollar fish – a world record largemouth bass that could make you instantly rich from fishing equipment endorsements, book deals, talk shows and public speaking events.

This may never happen for many of us, but we still try, motivated by that seven-year-old boy who caught a Tennessee state record with a Snoopy rod and a dried worm or that first-time angler who breaks a state record by using cheese for bait.

If you look through the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency annual fishing guide or go to the TWRA website, you will find a list of the record fish that have been caught in Tennessee.

From bluegill to gar to carp, this resource will tell you when a state record was caught, where it was caught, and who caught it.

One interesting fact about this list is that there are several fish that are not only state records but also world records. These world records include:

-World record walleye caught from Old Hickory Reservoir by Mabry Harper in 1960. The fish weighed 25 pounds.

-World record smallmouth bass caught from Dale Hollow Lake by D.L. Hayes in 1955. The fished weighed 11 pounds 15 ounces.

-World record black crappie caught from a farm pond by Lionel Ferguson in 2018. The fish weighed 5 pounds 7.7 ounces.

-World record orchid trout (currently does not exist in Tennessee) was caught from Watauga Lake by Richard Lynn Carter in 1986. The fish weighed 14 pound 5 ounces.

-World record lake trout caught from Watauga Lake by Jack Forbes in 2008. The fish weighed 22 pounds 2 ounces.

-World record yellow bass caught from the Duck River by John Chappell in 1998. The fish weighed 2 pounds 9 ounces.

-World record Bighead Carp caught from Guntersville Reservoir by Jeffery Rorex in 2005. The fish weighed 90 pounds.

-World record skipjack herring caught from Watts Bar Reservoir by Marc A. Cooper II in 2015. The fish weighed 4 pounds 3 ounces.

-World record spotted sucker caught from Chickamauga Reservoir by Greg Henry in 2008. The fish weighed 3 pounds 3 ounces.

-World record freshwater drum caught from Nickajack Reservoir by Benny Hull in 1972. The fish weighed 54 pounds 8 ounces

If you look closely at the list, you will notice several of these world records were caught in east Tennessee. That says this area has the waters that will support a record fish.

To me that is something we all should take pride in.

The second thing that the TWRA record books show us is that many of these fish have been caught in the last 10 years. At one point during the last couple years, for example, 14 fishing records were broken in a 16-month period.

This tells me the record fish are still here, waiting for us to present the right lure or bait at the right time in just the right way for us to catch them.

The fish are out there, now we just need to find them and go fish for them. 

For me, it makes the fishing trip even more exciting when I know I may catch a large fish or even a record-breaking fish. But where are these fish and how can I catch one?

During part two of this column, we will try to determine where we are most likely to hook one of these monsters and how we too can see our names in the record books.