The Missouri Department of Conservation confirmed Tyler Halley of Maryville, Missouri, recently caught a new state-record yellow perch.
Halley was fishing on a private pond in Nodaway County when he caught the 1-pound, 14-ounce fish using the pole-and-line method with bait.
The previous record was a 1-pound, 11-ounce fish caught in 2009.
The catch also marks the first state-record fish of 2020.
Halley, 16, was ice-fishing with his uncle TJ Allen and family friends on Jan. 24 when he felt something give his line a tug.
“I literally had to put half of my body into the water and I gave the fish a bear hug so it wouldn’t get away,” Halley said. “It was freezing. I had to go sit in the truck to warm up after that.”
He said the group was ice fishing when he caught the record fish.
“We were told that there was bass, crappie, bluegill and a few yellow perch in the pond but that they weren’t that big,” Halley said. “They thought the bass were over-dominating them before we caught this yellow perch.”
The anglers suspected it was a notable catch and held the fish in an aerated cooler until they were able to verify the record size.
Conservation department staff verified the fish’s weight using a certified scale in Maryville.
“It feels pretty nice to have a state record,” Halley said. “I’m going to get a replica made of it. We kept the fish alive in an aerated cooler because we wanted to get it certified. We ended up releasing it back into another pond on private property.”
Halley is also the recipient of an official plaque from the conservation department in recognition of the catch.
Fisheries biologists report Missouri is on the very southern range for yellow perch so new records for this species are not very common.
Tory Mason, fisheries management biologist, said yellow perch can survive in Northwest Missouri ponds. The state also has public access for fishing the species at Bull Shoals Lake in southern Missouri.
Missouri state-record fish are recognized in the two categories of pole-and-line and alternative methods. Alternative methods include throwlines, limb lines, bank lines, jug lines, spearfishing, snagging, snaring, gigging, grabbing, archery and atlatl.