Nebraska Man Catches Heaviest Fish in State History


The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission recently certified a 113-pound, four-ounce paddlefish as the new state record, officially making it the heaviest fish caught in the state’s history. The angler who caught it, Tom Keller of Malcolm, said he is still in a bit of shock.

“Didn’t think it was that big,” Keller said, adding that the fish did not put up the fight that he expected from such a titanic animal.

“Probably 10 to 15 minutes of actual fight time. Like I said, it wasn’t a barn burner, it didn’t zipline out like you would expect [from] a big fish like that. It was just more like pulling in a chunk of driftwood,” he described.

The angler said he was fishing with family on October 9 when he hooked the massive paddlefish below Gavins Point Dam on the Missouri River. Keller recalled hooking the fish on his second cast, but did not think much of it at the time. It was not until after Keller pulled it in and saw the animal roll over on its side that he saw how big it was.

You can watch an interview with Keller below:

Wildlife officials said that fish over 100 pounds in Nebraska are all but unheard of. Fisheries biologist Daryl Bauer knows of only one other case in which a 100-pound plus fish was caught in the state. 

“Back when our state was being settled, there were lots of stories about huge, 100-pound plus fish, mostly catfish, inhabiting the Missouri River. I have no doubt those stories were true, but unfortunately none of those fish were certified as state records,” Bauer wrote on the official blog for Nebraska Game & Parks. “Our state record program has only ever seen one fish before this one that exceeded 100 pounds and that was the 107 pound 12 ounce rod & reel state record paddlefish taken back in 2011. Triple digit fish are a big deal, a really big deal, pardon the pun.”

Bauer said he suspected Keller’s record paddlefish came from the Lewis and Clark Reservoir, where it had the opportunity to grow fat and large due to an absence of harsh currents. The fish may have gotten into the Missouri River through Gavins Point Dam after the US Army Corps of Engineers released a large amount of water earlier this fall. Paddlefish that live in large river habitat tend to be a lot smaller due to their more active lifestyle.

“I would speculate that fish moved downstream through the dam gates and then found itself on the end of Tom Keller’s line––truly an exceptional fish and an exceptional catch!” Bauer wrote.

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