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Arkansan sports state-record mullet

GILLETT – Samuel Yarberry of Bryant landed in the Arkansas state fishing record book, taking a striped mullet with unrestricted tackle March 27.

The fish, taken by bowfishing at Morgan Point Bendway Lake off the Arkansas River in Desha County, was 24 5/8 inches long and weighed 5 pounds, 6 ounces. It was weighed at Riverside Grocery in Benton and witnessed by Bo Hightower of Bauxite. Brett Hobbs, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission fisheries supervisor in Hot Springs, certified the species of fish, and AGFC Wildlife Officer Bernardo Soliz verified the record weight.

Striped mullet is an interesting species of fish in that it spawns, and is born, in saltwater like the Gulf of Mexico, then migrates to fresh water. Striped mullet will come up the Mississippi River, and into Arkansas waters such as (in this case) the Arkansas River or the Ouachita River, according to Jeff Quinn, an AGFC stream management biologist.

“Most are caught in the lower Arkansas River because dams block their migrations,” Quinn said, though he recalled a record striped mullet from 1975 that was taken on the Ouachita River near a bridge at Arkadelphia. “That’s a pretty rare specimen. The many dams on the Ouachita aren’t easy to get past to get that far.”

He added, “They come up into fresh water and stay around shallow sandbar areas in the river. They’ll be found in the shallows feeding. They are very, very fast. They can really move. They come up the Arkansas River in spring and summer, and spawn in the winter in the gulf.”