I have promised some of you that there is more story to what will be our new state record paddlefish, http://outdoornebraska.ne.gov/blogs/2011/10/stop-presses-big-huge-fish/ (I have all the paperwork on that fish already, everything is in order, just have not mailed out the state record certificate yet). Here’s “the rest of the story”.
That fish was snagged during our current paddlefish snagging season on the Missouri River; it was snagged in the Gavins Point Dam tailwaters. Louis Maring of Merna caught the fish on October 6 and the story I heard is this was the first time Louis had participated in our paddlefish snagging season! (Sorry Louis, you are probably not going to ever catch a bigger paddlefish than that one!) What is striking about Louis’ paddlefish is the girth, what pointy-headed fish biologists would refer to as body condition (some of us pointy-headed fish biologists have very healthy body conditions ourselves, ha). There is some truth to the fact that fish that live in rivers, flowing water, current, are often more sleek and slender while fish living in standing waters can be more, well, “fat”. As I said that fish was caught in the Gavins Point tailwaters, but was certainly more girthy than the river fish that are typically taken there.
Take a look at the insides of the fish.
The big white lobes you see inside the body cavity turned out to be nothing but F-A-T. The “guts” of that fish by themselves weighed over 40 pounds! Apparently that fish had been sitting on the couch eating lots of plankton doughnuts.
There was something else unique about the fish. None of the pictures I have show it, but the fish had a jaw tag, a South Dakota jaw tag, tag number PP4568. That tag was put in that fish back on June 2, 1992. The fish was tagged below Ft. Randall Dam by a fellow South Dakota pointy-headed fisheries biologist that many of us know. Way back in 1992 he tagged that fish as part of the research he was doing for his Master’s degree. When the fish was tagged in 1992 it was 42 inches long (fork length) and weighed 49 pounds.
In 19 years that fish grew 9.75 inches and gained 58.75 pounds! No aging of the fish was ever done, but it was likely in its teens or early 20′s when it was initially tagged and would have been approaching 40 years old when it was caught this fall!
It is likely that fish “lived” in Lewis & Clark Reservoir as that would explain the incredible growth and size of the fish. Therefore, it is likely that fish moved out of Lewis & Clark with all the water that flowed through that system this summer and as fate would have it, ended up meeting Louis in the Gavins Point tailwaters this fall.
Stop and consider that Louis’ fish is the largest fish of any kind that has been taken from Nebraska waters in quite some time. You can go back and find historical stories of triple-digit fish taken during the settling of our state, but Louis’ fish is the largest state record of any species that has been documented! It is not everyday that triple-digit fish are taken from Nebraska waters, and this was truly a once-in-a-lifetime catch, probably for all of us. What a truly amazing specimen, what a special fish!