Jan. 27 (UPI) -- A Tennessee man reeled in a massive paddlefish that he said may have broken records if he hadn't released it without weighing it.
Robert Livingston shared video and photos of the American paddlefish, also known as a spoonbill, he reeled in while fishing with a friend on Cherokee Lake.
Livingston said he initially thought he had hooked a catfish and was surprised to see it was a paddlefish, a species he said is difficult to catch with the type of hook he was using.
"You can only catch them by accident unless you snag them," he told WBIR-TV. "This one, it just swam by and caught my hook right in the corner of its mouth. It was barely hooked, just a small portion of its cheek. Get it in the boat and I grab it and the hook actually falls out into the water."
Livingston said he is sure the fish would have out-weighed the 104-pound state record for the species, but he released the fish without weighing it.
"I know for a fact it would have broke the state record and been very close to the world at 151 pounds," Livingston told WZTV.
The angler said he didn't have any way of bringing the giant fish back to shore without killing it.
"People keep dogging me for not taking it home, and the people who are avid fishermen are like I did the right thing," Livingston said. "I would hate to catch the fish of a lifetime and then say, 'Yeah, I killed it.' It's there swimming around so maybe one day somebody else will catch it."