What could be the biggest fish ever caught comes from one of the smallest lakes in Kansas.

On May 5, Clinton Boldridge caught a 144-pound, 6-foot-3 paddlefish after just 30 minutes of fishing at a 10-acre watershed lake near Atchison, Kan., so small it is called simply Dam No. 7.

The fish not only will shatter the Kansas record by more than 50 pounds, it also could qualify as a world record. The National Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame lists a 142-pound, 8-ounce fish snagged in 1973 on the Missouri River in Montana as the current world mark.

"My first thought was, 'How in the world did I get a fish that big in on the equipment I was using?' " said Boldridge, 37, a construction worker who lives in Riley, Kan. "My second thought was, 'What is a fish like that doing in a little lake like this?' "

Boldridge said he used "a light-action rod, a little spinning reel and eight-pound test line." His bait -- a doughball.

When Boldridge and his two fishing partners -- his brother, Bryan, and his friend Mike Parsons -- saw the fish, they were amazed. But they soon faced a big problem: finding a way to get it onto the bank.

"My brother went down there with a net, but once I got the fish up, we knew that net was useless," said Boldridge, who will apply for the world record. "There's no way it would fit in there.

"So I just went in the water and grabbed it. That fish beat me up, but I got it in."

-- From News Services

J.D. Greeley, left, Clinton Boldridge take hold of 144-pound paddlefish that Boldridge hooked, wrestled in at a small lake in Atchison, Kan., on May 5.