This paddlefish was caught on the Holston River in East TN above Cherokee Lake. We were striper fishing when I hooked into this fish. I was using a Sage One 8wt with Scientific Anglers 350 grain sinking line and 15 lb Seaguar fluorocarbon leader.
The fight lasted 1 hour 15 minutes and the paddlefish pulled us over a mile from where we hooked it. Fishing out of an 18 ft Flats&Bay flats boat. The paddlefish weighed in at 68lbs. 63 inches long and 32 inches in diameter at center mass.
As the fly was hooked in the paddle I believe it was snagged. I felt a thump, and then weight, and then a run. My personal belief is that the paddlefish slashed at the fly with its bill to get it away from her. Paddlefish are omnivores and I got lucky and was pretty stoked to catch and release this beauty of a fish.
Article and photos from Capt. Gavin Greeley, a fly fishing guide based out of Knoxville, Tennessee. He also guides trout in the summers in Vail, Colorado. Be sure to check him out at @guiderightcharters.