Curiosity leads to new state Goldeye record

LAKE OF THE OZARKS, Mo — Rachel Davis, 35, of Climax Springs was enjoying an evening of fishing on the shores of Lake of the Ozarks April 14 with her husband, David, and a friend when her newly purchased Zebco 202 fishing pole snagged something.

“When I caught it, I thought I had a 20-pound fish. I yelled to my husband to fetch a net to help haul it out,” Davis recalled. “It felt like it was bigger than it was and even jumped out of the water a couple times.”

When she hauled it to shore, Davis didn’t know what type of fish she had, but was curious to figure it out. She had caught a similar fish last year, but did not know what it was and just threw it back in the water. This year, however, she was determined to figure out what type of fish it was. While her husband and friend continued to fish, Davis took out her smart phone and searched the Internet to see if she could match the fish.

“I Googled the fish and came across a picture. I decided to look on the Missouri Department of Conservation website to see if we had goldeye in Missouri,” Davis said. "I found the page that talked about goldeye and I saw the record and thought, 'I think this fish is bigger than that.'”

With assistance from her mother-in-law, the family weighed the fish on a baby scale. It read 1 pound, 12 ounces.

“Once I saw the weight, that’s when I knew I should take it to Conservation to see if it really did weigh that much.”

Missouri’s former goldeye state record was a 1-pound, 8-ounce fish caught using pole and line on the Black River on Sept. 25, 2003.

The goldeye, Hiodon alosoides, is considered a good fly-fishing fish, but it is not popular with most anglers because of its small size. It is a member of the mooneye family (Hiodontidae). The fish is most often found in the open waters of large rivers. It prefers murky, slower-moving lakes and rivers. The fish averages less than 1 pound or 12 inches in length.

On Monday morning, Rachel took her catch to the MDC Camdenton office of Fisheries Management Biologist Greg Stoner.

“She researched the fish, knew what it was, and knew it was a potential state record when she walked into my office,” Stoner said. “ Goldeye and mooneye are a couple of those fish species that even we biologists reach for Pfliegers’ Fish of Missouri just to make sure what it is. She was interested enough in a “non-game trash fish” to put forth the effort. Good for her.”

To get an official weight on a certified scale, Stoner sent Davis to Tom’s Slaughtering and Meat Processing on Hwy A near Camdenton. Davis’ fish weighed in at 1-pound, 12-ounces and was 16.5 inches long.

This was Davis’s first fishing trip of the year. She caught her record fish using 6-pound line and minnow for bait.

“I’m still kind of in shock. I never thought I’d do something like this,” Davis said. “It’s really neat to think my husband fishes all the time and I don’t get to go often, but here I break the record.”

For more information on Missouri fishing records, visit mdc.mo.gov/fishing/reports/records.