Angler spears world-record-size paddlefish in ‘trip to remember’

·2 min read

On the final dive of the day in Beaver Lake, Chris Cantrell was hoping for a striped bass but instead speared a potential spearfishing world-record paddlefish in what he described as “a trip to remember.”

Cantrell shot the 90-pound, 12-ounce paddlefish in the Arkansas lake while spearfishing with a friend and his brother-in-law Kalvin Cackler near the dam last weekend, according to the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission.

Cantrell was in 15 to 20 feet of water when he saw a large shape and thought it was a gar, but as he got closer, he saw it was a huge paddlefish and took the shot.

“I dropped the gun after the shot because the fish made a strong dive when it was hit,” Cantrell told the AGFC. “With a big fish, you drop the gun so that it doesn’t pull you down. The float line will keep it pinned. By the time I was back at the surface, the fish had already pulled the line from the gun and the 50 feet of float line. It was pulling against the float at the surface.

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“It probably took 10 to 15 minutes. I had to let the float line work about four or five times during the fight when the fish made hard runs.”

Once he tired the fish, Cantrell pulled what he thought could be a record into the boat, and then faced a dilemma. Where would he weigh the fish?

“It was a holiday weekend, so finding somewhere with certified scales that was open took a long time,” Cantrell said. “The AGFC office was closed, and certified scales are required for any record submissions. My sister actually suggested we try calling a UPS store. To my surprise, one agreed.”

Eventually, Jon Stein, regional fisheries supervisor for the AGFC, confirmed the species and the record fish.

The Arkansas record for a paddlefish caught on hook and line is 118 pounds, 9 ounces, also caught in Beaver Lake, in 2020.

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Cackler, who runs the Beaver Lake Spearfishing Facebook group, said they are getting the paperwork together to submit the fish to the International Underwater Spearfishing Association and if all goes well, it should replace the current record of 71.8 pounds, held by Wesley Stewart, set in 2019.

“I couldn’t find exactly where Stewart’s paddlefish came from, but the pictures I saw look a lot like Beaver Lake,” Cackler said.

Photos courtesy of the AGFC.

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Story originally appeared on For The Win