TN Record Skipjack Confirmed – World Record Pending

Skipjack Record Fish
(l-r) TWRA Biologist Mike Jolley pictured with angler Marc Cooper with the new state record (pending world record) skipjack herring. (Photo contributed by TWRA)

It was about two months ago when Gabe Keen broke the new Tennessee record largemouth bass (15 lbs. 3 ozs.). The fishing world is still buzzing about Keen’s catch.

There is however, a good chance you haven’t heard about the most recent new state record catch — and potential world record.

Marc Cooper II, a student at UT Knoxville caught a new state record skipjack herring. He is hoping it will also be confirmed as a new world record. Skipjack are also known as river herring, or sometimes called Tennessee tarpon due to their inclination to leap high out of the water when hooked. While great fun to catch, they are not a prized fish in Tennessee, unless you’re a serious catfishermen. Anglers going after trophy catfish often use the oily skipjack cut into chunks as bait.

The fish, caught in Watts bar lake, weighed in at 4 lbs, 2.88 oz. Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency Fisheries Biologist Mike Jolley confirmed Cooper’s record and has submitted the weight to the International Game Fish Association for world record status.

Cooper, was happy about the bad weather on February 17. UT had cancelled classes and his buddy had a 4-wheel drive truck. They decided to go fishing. An avid fisherman, Cooper started and runs UT’s Catfishing Club. On the day of his record catch, they were simply after baitfish and ended their day with a full cooler. They headed home and noticed a few skipjacks were larger than usual. After weighing the fish on certified scales, Cooper contacted TWRA to confirm his catch.

“We love confirming records”, stated Mike Jolley. “Any day working with TWRA fisheries and record setting is a good day!”

Jolley, a 22-year veteran with TWRA often deals with inquiries regarding new records.

He said, “Anyone that wants to document a new record fish should follow the criteria listed in the TN Fishing Guide or consult the web site.”

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Richard Simms is a professional journalist and fishing guide in Chattanooga. (See He is also a former wildlife officer for TWRA, a book author and a self-proclaimed "River Rat" with a sincere desire for spreading the message about our bountiful natural resources and the people charged with using, or protecting them.



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