April 14, 2021
Jim Harris Managing Editor Arkansas Wildlife Magazine
MANILA – Jamie Wilhoite caught a goldeye a few years back, though at the time she and her husband, Homer, didn’t know immediately what it was. They took a photo to identify it later and gave the fish away, then wondered if that fish’s weight might have exceeded the then-listed state record for goldeye.
But when Jamie caught her second goldeye on April 2 in the State Line Outlet Ditch south of the Simmons Field structure, they not only knew what it was, they had an inkling it was easily a state record, as it was “way bigger” than the one she’d hooked years back, she said. Homer’s handy fish scale indicated it was more than the listed state goldeye record of 1 pound, 10 ounces, so they quickly reached out to an area Arkansas Game and Fish wildlife officer, before heading to Jonesboro where Brett Timmons, AGFC fisheries supervisor for that district, confirmed a record weight of 2 pounds, 3.6 ounces.
A goldeye is a freshwater fish usually found in Canada and the northern U.S. and is one of only two remaining species in the family Hiodontidae. The scientific species name alosoides means “shad-like.” It’s distinguished by its silver compressed body form and large gold eyes. Some other names for the goldeye are yellow herring, tooth herring or shad mooneye.
Jamie Wilhoite described the feeling of catching a state record fish as “awesome,” adding, “I got so tickled, I was so excited.”
Jamie says the ditch they were fishing is known as the “drum hole,” as drum are prevalent along with catfish. She and Homer were fishing that Friday for catfish, and she was using a nightcrawler with a bottom presentation, so catching a goldeye surprised her.
“We were fishing for anything that would bite,” she said this week. “Drum is mainly what we’d catch there, but that day we got lucky.”
Jamie says she and Homer fish year-round when they can at various spots around Manila, including Mallard Lake and Big Lake. The Simmons Field structure and the outlet ditch are just above Mallard Lake. “We fish just about every ditch from here to Jonesboro,” she said.
She adds that fishing is “pretty good here” right now. “Last Saturday and Sunday (April 10-11) we went fishing at Mallard Lake and got 15 crappie Saturday and 14 on Sunday. There are a lot of people fishing for crappie and bass out of Big Lake. We mainly catfish and crappie fish in the spring.”
She says goldeye are a rare sight in the outlet ditch, being as she’s only caught two over several years. But she’s got one up on her husband now.
“We compete against each other on who catches the most fish,” she said. “I told him afterward, you may catch the most fish or the most species of fish, but you’re not going to beat my record.”