Missouri man steals redear sunfish state record from friend

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) congratulates Alex Phillips of Ash Grove for becoming the new state record holder under alternative methods for redear sunfish. Phillips was bowfishing at Table Rock Lake April 28 when he shot a 2-pound, 1-ounce fish. The previous record, caught by Phillips’ friend Josh Cole, was a 1-pound, 12-ounce fish caught nearly two years ago to the day.

“It’s quite a story,” laughed Phillips. “I’m a fabricator and had just finished outfitting Josh’s boat for bowfishing. He asked if I wanted to go out with him that night, so I did, and we ended up shooting a lot of fish. Things were slowing down when Josh said he wanted to check that spot where he caught his record sunfish. I just happened to see four of them together – one of them looked like a dinner plate!”

Phillips said after he shot the fish, both he and Cole originally thought it was a bluegill.

“When Josh figured it out, he just let out this big sigh and then we both started laughing,” he recalled. “It’s just too funny because we were on his boat, he took me to his honey hole, and I broke his record.”

MDC staff verified the fish’s weight by using a certified scale at Chesapeake Fish Hatchery near Mount Vernon. This is the fifth state record fish recorded for 2021.

Phillips said he’s planning to mount the redear sunfish. When asked if he has plans to go back to his friend’s honey hole to get a bigger fish, he responded, “I have more plans to keep Josh out of there!”

Missouri state record fish are recognized in two categories: pole-and-line and alternative methods. Alternative methods include: throwlines, limb lines, bank lines, jug lines, spearfishing, snagging, snaring, gigging, grabbing, archery, and atlatl.