Missouri Record Fish Stories – Paddlefish
NARRATOR: There are a lot of fish stories
to be pulled out of Missouri’s waters. Yarns, tall tales, legends, maybe even a few
outright lies. But the saga of Andy Belobraydic’s III’s
big one certainly merits a good telling. ANDY: I was shell shocked man! Even telling
the story now I start to get all worked up. It was like a Cinderella story for a redneck.
NARRATOR: The game afoot was snagging – straining that whole lakefull of water past a tiny treble
hook, in the unlikely event that some fish might happen along.
It’s a desperate gambit, but it is the ONLY was to hook a fish that won’t come to ANY
bait. We’re talkin’ about paddlefish. These ancient monsters have been prowling
Missouri’s waters for millennia, and they can get wicked big!
The Missouri Department of Conservation has been stocking them for decades, particularly
in our big reservoirs. Now the folks at Blind Pony’s hatchery work
real hard to make sure there are plenty of paddlefish to go around.
And on March 21, 2015, out on Table Rock Lake, it was Andy’s turn.
All of the sudden there was something MASSIVE on his line.
ANDY: Next thing I know it starts peeling drag, and I look at my buddy and I say, yeah
it is definitely a fish. By that time it has spun the boat around and it is pulling us
into everyone else’s lines. NARRATOR: The game was on.
Andy’s first thought was… ANDY: We are going to need a bigger boat.
I mean we got Moby Dick coming to the top. NARRATOR: It was an epic battle. On it went
for thirty minutes maybe more. The beast taking line, Andy dragging it back. A brutal physical
struggle worthy of any Hemingway novel. The outcome was uncertain. Who would prevail,
the man, or the monster? ANDY: I fought with it, fought with it. I
got it back up and when it comes up it kind of rolls over onto its back. That is when
I threw down my pole and we all lunged over the boat and we grabbed this thing. This boat
kind of goes up on its end. We are waiting for this boat to capsize.
NARRATOR: In the end the fish quit the fight, but nearly capsized the boat in the process.
Now these boys knew they had something special on their hands, but to prove it beyond a shadow
of doubt, they needed to get this bruiser on to a certified scale, the party soon rolled
on to MDC’s Shepard of the Hills hatchery. CLINT HALE: Anytime there is a record fish,
or a potential record fish caught in the area they bring it to our scale because we have
one of the only ones around. They had a lot of people, and they were all excited, and
when we weighed the fish sure enough it was the new state record.
NARRATOR: The final tally, 140 pounds and 9 ounces.
ANDY: I was there, I was watching everything happen. Everyone is really excited, and I
just couldn’t believe something like this was happening. A Cinderella story for a redneck!
NARRATOR: It was the new Missouri state record for a paddlefish. And it was and is the largest
fish ever taken in the state with a pole and line.
For Belobraydic a wild ride had just begun. His 15 minutes of fame went on quite a while
longer. The moral of that story is this, as you’re
pulling that tiny treble hook through that big lake of water, remember, the big ones
are out there. Bigger ones. That next Cinderella story just might have your name on it.
And yeah. You sure are going to need a bigger boat.