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Tennessee state record muskie caught in East Tennessee

A state record that’s been on Tennessee's books for nearly 34 years has officially been broken by one lucky, or skilled fisherman on Melton Hill Reservoir. Stephen Paul not only caught the “fish of ten-thousand casts,” but he caught the state record muskellunge Thursday evening from the Knox County portion of Melton Hill Reservoir.

Muskellunge, better known as musky, are a challenging fish to catch, particularly when they get older and wiser. Fortunately for Paul however, a giant musky weighing 43 lbs. 14 oz. was aggressive enough to hit around 6 p.m. and provide him with the catch of a lifetime.

Paul said he would have normally released the fish but unfortunately it was apparently injured, hence Paul brought it in to be weighed.

Paul contacted biologists with the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency who weighed and verified the fish is a new state record. The huge muskie was 51 3/8 inches in length with a girth of 23 ½ inches. The former state record musky weighed 42 lbs. 8 oz. was caught in Norris Reservoir on April 27, 1983 by angler Kyle F. Edwards.

TWRA Fisheries Biologist Jim Negus estimates the fish to be between 12-15 years old, but says that Melton Hill musky have been known to reach 50 inches by ten years of age. On the contrary, a musky in Wisconsin takes about 17 years to reach 50 inches.

Tennessee musky are at the southern end of the species range and consequently, have a faster growth rate than northern musky do.

Hammonds says, “The musky is an apex predator and a tremendous sport fish native to Tennessee. They put on a remarkable fight, once hooked and are typically very difficult to catch. A musky over 50-inches in length is extremely difficult to hook and land, and is considered to be a ‘fish of a lifetime’ for most musky anglers. Congratulations to Steven on his remarkable catch!”

Muskies are stocked in Melton Hill and several other places in Tennessee by TWRA. So far, there has been no documented natural reproduction and the fishery in Melton Hill exists solely due to stocking efforts

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