Fisherman Catches World Record 92-Pound Paddlefish With Bow and Arrow

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A Montana fisherman has set a new world record for the largest paddlefish caught with a bow and arrow, after a catch that weighed 92 pounds.

Steve Harris Jr., who lives in Sidney, Montana, brought his bowfishing gear to Yellowstone River in the east of the state on June 8 to look for paddlefish. He has caught at least one paddlefish every year for the past 30 years, according to the Montana Standard.

The American paddlefish, which can grow up to 7 feet in length and weigh up to 400 pounds, is often described as primitive because it has inhabited North America since the Cretaceous period 65 million years ago, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The Chinese paddlefish, once native to the Yangtze and Yellow river basins, is believed to be extinct.

Harris told the Standard on Tuesday that he uses a bow and arrow to catch the fish because it is more of a challenge than conventional methods. The species is “just a blast to fish for especially when you get good runoff,” he added.

He said fishing for paddlefish was difficult in Sidney because of its muddy waters, explaining that he and his friend Justin Fisketjon were “about the only people around here that really do it.”

Harris and Fisketjon generally fish in the same area at Yellowstone River where they have had success before, spending hours staring into the water and waiting for the moment to shoot the bow and arrow at a paddlefish.

Fisketjon previously held the record for the largest paddlefish caught with a bow and arrow, with an 87-pounder. In 2019, however, that record was beaten by an 89-pound catch in Nebraska.

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The Bowfishing Association of America is the only organization that keeps records of fish caught in the U.S. using a bow and arrow, as the International Game Fish Association does not use the category, according to the Standard.

On June 8, Harris went down to his normal spot and was presented with the “perfect shot,” telling the Standard: “That night it came up right in front of us and then started swimming away where we could see the whole body and it just gave me a perfect shot.

“He ran out about 30 yards before I stopped him, then I got him back in, he’d take a little line, then he was close enough for Justin to get him.”

Harris said the pair were initially unaware of the paddlefish’s size, thinking it was around “60 or 70 pounds.” After they attempted to drag it to shore, they realized: “Holy cow, this might be bigger than we think. We need to find a certified scale.”

The two men met their families and filmed the weigh-in with a crowd present, showing that the fish weighed a record-breaking 92 pounds.

“It was awesome, it’s just something I never thought about is to have a world record,” Harris said about the fish, which was 67 inches long and had a girth of 37 inches.

File photo of an American paddlefish (Polyodon spathula). A Montana fisherman has set a world record for the largest paddlefish caught with a bow and arrow, with a 92-pound catch. Marina Vedernikova/iStock / Getty Images Plus

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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>