Tennessee Angler Hooks 55-Pound Paddlefish

A man holding a fish in a river
Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency

Two anglers casting lines for striped bass in the Caney Fork River just outside of Nashville were surprised by an unusual suspect that took their bait – a 5-foot long, 55-pound paddlefish.

The fish battled for more than half an hour and towed the fishermen’s boat more than a half mile down the river before surrendering.

American Paddlefish are prehistoric fish that can grow over five feet long, weigh as much as 200 pounds and live for more than 30 years. The species can be found throughout the Mississippi River Drainage and generally inhabit large bodies of water, including the Tennessee and Cumberland rivers.

Though somewhat commonly present, they’re an extremely rare catch for fishermen.

Especially, fishermen who are not targeting the species in particular.

Paddlefish are bottom feeders, so most anglers typically attempt to snag them as opposed to hook them by the mouth, so catching one on traditional fishing tackle is all the more impressive.

A beer bottle on a dock


A beer bottle on a dock