KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — A state fishing record for a muskellunge, better known as a musky, has potentially been broken Stephen Paul on Melton Hill Reservoir. The angler landed the giant musky that weighed 43 pounds, 14 ounces while fishing on the Knox County portion of the reservoir on March 2.
Regarded as a challenging fish to catch, particularly when they get older, Paul caught the fish at around 6.m. on an artificial lure. With Paul to document the historic catch was a friend, Dylan Gano. Paul also said the fish unfortunately died in his net when it was landed, being the only reason he considered weighing it for a state record. Otherwise, he says it would have been released back into the water.
After the catch was made, the angler contacted TWRA Fisheries Technician Paul Shaw who tried, but was unable to find certified scales near the area where the fish was caught. Shaw then contacted Reservoirs Fisheries Biologist John Hammonds and Regional Fisheries Coordinator Bart Carter, who met Paul in Dandridge about three hours later to weigh and verify the new pending state record fish.
The TWRA officials also measured the fish at 51 3/8 inches in length with a girth of 23 ½ inches. The state record musky has stood foot nearly 34 years. Angler Kyle F. Edwards caught a musky in Norris Reservoir weighing 42 pounds, 8 ounces on April 27, 1983.
TWRA Fisheries Biologist Jim Negus estimates the fish to be between 12-15 years old, but says that Melton Hill musky have been known to reach 50 inches by age 10. On the contrary, a musky in Wisconsin takes about 17 years to reach 50 inches. Tennessee muskies are at the southern end of the species range and consequently, have a faster growth rate than northern musky.
“The musky is an apex predator and a tremendous sport fish native to Tennessee,” Hammonds said. “They put on a remarkable fight, once hooked and are typically very difficult to catch. A musky over 50 inches in length is extremely difficult to hook and land, and is considered to be a ‘fish of a lifetime’ for most musky anglers. Congratulations to Steven on his remarkable catch.”
Once the paperwork is certified in TWRA’s Nashville office, the fish will be listed as the new state record.