Missouri bowfisherman shoots world record-sized brown bullhead

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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) congratulates Mitchell Dering of Fairdealing on shooting the third state record fish recorded in 2023 – a 4-pound brown bullhead. Dering shot the fish while bowfishing at Duck Creek Ditch #105 March 14. The previous state record brown bullhead was a 2-pound, 7-ounce fish caught in 1994 from Wappapello Lake.

“I got off work that day and went out to one of the ditches in Duck Creek and just got lucky honestly,” Dering said. “We shoot a lot of smaller fish. I knew it was a bullhead, but didn’t know if was a brown bullhead. But I knew it was large for its size.”

Dering contacted the MDC Southeast Regional Office the next day to get his fish weighed. MDC staff verified the fish’s weight on a certified scale in Wappapello.

Dering is no stranger to holding state records in Missouri. He briefly held the state record for spotted gar back in 2019. But qualifying for a world record is a new accomplishment. His recent brown bullhead beats the current 3-pound, 4-ounce bowfishing world record.

“That’s honestly pretty awesome,” laughed Dering. “I’ve bowfished for quite awhile. We’ve won a few tournaments in Kentucky and Tennessee and have placed in numerous other tournaments. That’s cool, I didn’t know that!”

In Missouri, the only confirmed self-sustaining natural population of brown bullheads occurs at Duck Creek Conservation Area and nearby Mingo National Wildlife Refuge in Stoddard, Bollinger, and Wayne counties.

Dering said he’s now working on his collection of state records and plans to get his bullhead mounted.

“I’ve never mounted anything before,” he said. “I broke the state record for spotted gar a few years ago, but some guy broke the record two years later so it’s not in the record books anymore. But I’m working on getting me a collection of state records. I guess potentially world records now!”

Learn more about brown bullheads from MDC’s online Field Guide at https://mdc.mo.gov/discover-nature/field-guide/brown-bullhead.

Missouri state record fish are recognized in two categories: pole-and-line and alternative methods. Alternative methods include: trotline, throwline, limb line, bank line, jug line, gig, bow, crossbow, underwater spearfishing, snagging, snaring, grabbing, or atlatl.

For more information on state record fish, visit  http://bit.ly/2efq1vl.

To learn more about world record fish, visit the International Game and Fish Association at https://igfa.org/.