First Paddlefish Catch Becomes State Record For Hawkins County Resident

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Gene Armstrong decided to try paddlefish angling for the first time on Cherokee Lake. Little did the Hawkins County native know his first catch of the species would etch his name into the Tennessee State Anglers Record Book.

Mr. Armstrong landed what the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency has certified a Class A (Sport Fishing Method) state record 95-pound paddlefish. It measured 69.6 inches in length.

The 20-year old Mr. Armstrong decided to go out for a Saturday evening fishing trip on April 12 at the Horseshoe Bend section of the lake. He was set for some bank fish fishing, not too far from his home in the Church Hill community.

The outing began on a good note as he quickly caught a pair of hybrid striped bass. His good start propelled him to make the effort to give catching a paddlefish a shot.

“I had never fished for a paddlefish, so I thought it was a good time to give it a try,” Mr. Armstrong said. “I did not know what to expect, but certainly it turned out well.”

Fishing in what Mr. Armstrong estimated to be 60-70 feet of water, he used a three-prong treble hook on a 20-pound test line. He quickly got some contact and what began was an approximately 45-minute ordeal as he worked to land what proved to be his trophy fish.

“The pole was bent over pretty good,” Mr. Armstrong said. “There was a time when I thought it was going to break, but luckily it didn’t.”

Mr. Armstrong got the fish on the bank at around 5:30 p.m. Several other fishermen were in the area, and ironically, one was the angler who was the record holder prior to Mr. Armstrong. Stephen Criss was the holder of the record, with his catch of 81 pounds, 12 ounces on March 4, 2012. It was Mr. Criss who suggested they weigh the fish. After it was weighed, the process began to getting the catch certified as the new state record.

Mr. Armstrong had the fish weighed on a certified scale at the Hawkins County Farmers Co-Op in Rogersville. Bart Carter, Region IV TWRA fisheries coordinator, inspected the fish and the submission was made to the TWRA Fisheries Division in Nashville.

The paddlefish is the second largest fish caught for the Class A section of the record book. Only a blue catfish weighing 112 pounds caught at Lock C on the Cumberland River by Robert F. Lewis stands larger.

The Class B paddlefish record is 120 pounds held by John T. Johnson. It came on the Blue Hole section of Center Hill Lake in 1982. Class B includes those methods other than rod and reel.

Criteria to be considered for a state record fish can be found in the 2014 Tennessee Fishing Guide. The guide is available at hunting and fishing agents, TWRA regional offices, or online at the TWRA website, tnwildlife.org.


Appalachian Trail Produces Deer Poacher And Lost Dog

TWRA wildlife officers working along the Appalachian Trail in the Cherokee National Forest near Butler charged a hunter with violations related to illegal deer hunting, then rescued a lost family pet in the same area.  Carter County Wildlife Officer Dennis Ward has documented illegal ATV tracks on Iron Mountain for several years, and while scouting out the area this year, ... (click for more)

Drought-Induced Peril Prompts Rescue Of Endangered Fish

The fishes that live in headwater streams are like the scrappy underdogs of the aquatic world. They’ve adapted to hang tough in low-oxygen conditions and to make it through the occasional drought. But even Rocky Balboa couldn’t go 15 rounds — let alone months at a stretch — without the occasional water break. Thanks to a drought of historic proportions, the few creeks ... (click for more)

Valerie Bray Pleads Guilty In Death Of Well-Known Runner Cameron Bean

A long-time Moccasin Bend Hospital employee pleaded guilty on Tuesday morning in connection with the death of well-known runner Cameron Bean. Ms. Bray pleaded guilty to criminally negligent homicide and leaving the scene of an accident with a fatality involved. Defense attorney Bill Speek said she faces one-two years on each charge at a sentencing hearing on Feb. 1 at 1:30 ... (click for more)

Officer Who Was Shot Returned Fire; Is Recovering Well; Shooter Still On Loose

Chattanooga Police Chief Fred Fletcher said Monday morning that the officer who was shot three times on Thursday is recovering well.   Chief Fletcher said the officer was wearing a bullet-proof vest and one bullet hit the vest, which protected him during the shooting.  The officer was able to return fire, although Chief Fletcher would not comment on how many bullets ... (click for more)

An Open Letter To Tennessee Electors Of The President - And Response (2)

This an open letter to the following people who are Tennessee's presidential electors this year: Joey Jacobs (Brentwood), Beth Scott Clayton Amos (Nashville), Jason Mumpower (Bristol), Susan Mills (Maryville), Liz Holiway (Harriman), Lynne Davis (Lascassas), Tom Lawless (Nashville), Mike Callahan (Monterey), Pat Allen (Clarksville), Shannon Haynes (Alamo), and Drew Daniel (Memphis).  ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Abolish Bail For Poor

Our terribly overcrowded Hamilton County Jail may get some help from an unsuspected corner – the Obama administration is tackling the fact that right now over 450,000 people are in our country’s jails because they are too poor to pay for bail. It is a violation of the Constitution to “punish people for their poverty.” As the Eighth Amendment provides, “… excessive bail ought not ... (click for more)