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Riley man lands world record paddlefish

Kansas Department of
Wildlife & Parks

Clinton Boldridge, Riley, arrived at Atchison's Watershed Dam #7 on May 5, 2004 to test the carp fishing with a doughbait recipe handed down through several generations of his family.

He had just thrown his line in the water when he felt a tremendous pull, and the fight was on. His brother and a friend watched as Boldridge fought the fish for some time. At one point, his brother started into the water with a landing net, but when he saw the monster's bill (called a rostrum) surface, he dropped the net and fled the battle.

Boldridge then handed his rod to the friend and waded into the water himself. When the fish was landed, they knew they had something special on their hands.

They rushed the fish to the office of the Atchison Daily Globe, whose reporters called KDWP in Pratt. Then they contacted local fisheries biologist Kirk Tjemeland, who met them at Earnie's Locker in Easton, where the fish was weighed on certified scales.

Tjemeland identified the fish and confirmed that it had not been snagged - which would be illegal in this water - and certified the application for an official new state record of 144 pounds.

The giant paddlefish - often called a spoonbill - was 54 1/4 inches long from eye to tail (75 inches from the tip of the rostrum to the tip of the tail) and measured 45 1/4 inches of girth.

The fish has been confirmed at a new state record as well as the new world record.

Atchison Watershed Dam #7 was built in the early 1960s as a flood-control structure for the city of Atchison. It now doubles as a public fishing water under KDWP's Community Lake Assistance Program (CLAP). It has no river flow through which a paddlefish could swim naturally, so Tjemeland speculates that someone may have caught the fish elsewhere in the past and put it in the lake.

Paddlefish are filter-feeders that consume plankton, so it is unusual for them to be hooked in the mouth. They can be legally snagged in specified waters during the paddlefish season, usually March 15-May 15. In this case, however, a mouth bigger than a basketball met a doughball the size of a quarter, and history may be in the making.

The former Kansas record paddlefish was 90 pounds, 12 ounces, and was snagged in the Neosho River below the Chetopa Dam during a special snagging season on May 29, 1998, by Joseph Cole of Walnut.

The former world record was a 142-pound, 8-ounce fish snagged from the Missouri River in Montana in 1973 by Larry Branstetter.



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