A new Arkansas American eel record is now on display for tourists to see.
Wilson and Suzette Bowling thought a snake their hook as they reeled it from the depths of Bull Shoals Lake. The Arkansas American eel record previously weighed 5 pounds, 3 ounces. The American eel the two caught weighed 5 pounds, 4 ounces.
In fact, Wilson almost filleted the snake-like fish, but first he asked his neighbor, a local fishing guide, to take a look at it. After learning what he had, Wilson, a local postmaster, took the eel to the post office to certify its weight.
Sure enough, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission came out and confirmed the weight. So, instead of filleting the record American eel for dinner, Wilson donated the eel to the town's visitors center.
AGFC Biologist Cody Wyatt said this is the first eel he's ever confirmed from Bull Shoals Lake.
These eels are native to rivers in the Ozarks, but it's unusual for an eel to be the lake. According to Missouri Department of Conservation, eels in Missouri and Arkansas are all females. When they spawn, the females travel up stream, and the dam likely blocked this eel from swimming up stream.
"Male eels spend their entire adult lives in estuaries along the coast; only females migrate to inland waters," Wyatt said "Eels then migrate to breed at great depths in the Atlantic Ocean south of Bermuda. When young eels reach coastal waters they are transparent and called glass eels."
No one really knows how the eel made it into the lake, but Wyatt speculates that someone caught the eel below the dam and released it in the lake.