A Tennessee musky angler chose to release a huge muskellunge that would have topped the current state record, which he holds.
Steven Paul is a musky guide who follows the catch-and-release ethos as much as he possibly can. Paul recently caught a giant musky that would've likely bested the current Tennessee state record, which Paul currently holds.
Last year, he caught a 51-3/8-inch fish weighing 43 pounds, 14 ounces from Melton Hill Reservoir. That musky currently sits at the top of the state records list.
The fish that would break his own record was a 55-inch brute, which he pulled from Watts Bar Lake in the Clinch River Flowage. However, Paul decided to release the beast to live and fight another day.
Steven Paul with his current Tennessee state record musky. Tennessean
"I just chose not to claim it because I already have the record," he said. "And I did not want to kill the fish just to get it entered into the books."
Paul admitted he wouldn't hold the current state record if the muskie he caught last year hadn't expired when he tried to release it. He took the dead fish to the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency where officials confirmed it as the new state record.
Interestingly, Paul caught his recent, bigger fish on the same lure he used to catch his state record.
"It was caught on a Joe Bucher glide raider, exactly the same bait I caught the state record on," he said. "That day was unbelievable. We caught some really nice fish."
Paul with the fish that could have beaten his current record.
"The reason that 55-incher is interesting is because you really don't expect a fish to be in the 55-inch class until you go into the extremes in Canada or on some of the premier waters in Wisconsin or Minnesota," Paul added.
Tennessee also recently saw its perch record tied when an angler matched a state-record fish caught just last year.
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Melton Hill Musky Guide
Tennessee Musky Fishing
Native Tennessee Muskie