A 33-year-old man from Richwoods, Missouri has broken the state record for the largest fish ever caught.
Andy Belobraydic, III’s family has been celebrating March 21st for about 35 years—it’s his parents’ wedding anniversary.
On Saturday, while angling on Table Rock Lake, he snagged a 140 pound, 9 ounce, Paddlefish. The fish, which was caught on the James River arm of the lake in Stone County, measured 56 ¾ inches in length and had a girth of 43 ¾ inches.
“It felt like you were hooking a log down on the bottom—it would move whenever it wanted to move and it’d stop whenever it wanted to stop—I just had to wait until she got tired and decided to do what I wanted to do,” Belobraydic says.
After that, he says, the real challenge began.
“It took three of us to get him into the boat—we’re big boys, about 200 pounds apiece, whenever we lunged over the side, we really don’t know what happened, everything happened so quick, when the opportunity was there to get her in the boat…we got her done,” Belobraydic recalls.
After calling for help, he says the Paddlefish was lugged to a scale on the dock. When the scale showed triple digits…
“Everyone started screaming, cheering—that’s when it really started getting interesting.”
The angler brought the fish to Shane Bush, a fishery biologist for the Missouri Department of Conservation. It was weighed again on a Department of Agriculture certified scale, then sent in to Jefferson City to be confirmed as the state record. It beat the old record, set in 2002, by only 1 pound, 5 ounces.
Bush says this is a great testament to the hatchery system.
“It’s very exciting that one of the fish that we stocked grew that big,” Bush says.
Belobraydic, who has been fishing since he was “knee high to a duck,” says he didn’t expect a state record, either. The fish broke one of his hooks, but nothing else.
“I was expecting something maybe somewhere around 70-80 pound, I wasn’t expecting an almost 141 pound fish,” he says.
Belobraydic is hoping to eventually see the fish up on the wall at Cabella’s, a hunting and fishing supply store in St. Charles, about an hour northeast of his hometown.
For now, however, that paddlefish has given his family 140 new reasons to celebrate his parents’ anniversary.
“I landed the fish at 5:30 on their anniversary—almost about the same time they got married. That’s their anniversary present, right there,” Belobraydic says.