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Mason County angler hauls in a record bowfin

LETART, W.Va. — Marshall University student Lauren Noble of Letart, W.Va. was anxious to hit the water after her classes wrapped up for the day last Tuesday.

Under sunny skies and warm conditions, she and her boyfriend hopped in the boat and put into the Ohio River. They decided they would start their hunt for pre-spawn bass in a back water of the river they knew well in the area in Mason County. It didn’t taken long for Lauren to stir the water.

“It was my second cast, I threw a crankbait right up on the bank and even before I started reeling he had it,” she explained.

The fish struck hard and fought ferociously, but neither Lauren nor her boyfriend could figure out what was on the other end of her line.

“It jumped and the DNR officer said they’re like a tarpon and it jumped out of the water just like a tarpon,” she noted in an interview for West Virginia Outdoors.

What she had on the other end of her line was a bowfin. She had it to the boat in just a couple of minutes and her boyfriend soon got it into the net.

“We were joking it was so big it might be a state record, so we Googled it, and sure enough it looked like it might be close,” she laughed.

Lauren called her dad to bring a set of scales to the river and by those measurements her fish would best the state record for weight. She soon got hold of the local DNR biologist to get it certified. Sure enough, the big fish put Lauren’s name into the state’s record books.

The official weight was 10.60 pounds which beat the standing record of 9.25 pounds caught in 2004 by Matt Stender. His fish also was caught in a backwater of the Ohio River. However, Lauren’s fish measured 30.19 inches, which was short of the length record. The record length for a bowfin still stands at 32.25 inches, caught in 1994 by Donald Newcome III in a Berkeley County farm pond.

Lauren said she had actually caught a bowfin before, but it was a far different experience.

“I caught one on the river bank one year, but it was nothing like this. I’ve caught a lot of fish, but this was by far the best fight I’ve ever had with a fish. If it wasn’t for my boyfriend and the net, I would have never gotten it into the boat. It was pretty crazy,” she said.

After the certification was done, Lauren and her boyfriend turned the big fish loose back into the Ohio River backwater where she had caught him.

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