Most anglers will fish for a lifetime and never catch a fish large enough to claim a state record catch, but one bowfisherman managed to arrow two records in the same outing.
Jimmy Ruple of Greenbrier arrowed a highfin carpsucker and a river carpsucker the night of June 19 on the Arkansas River to claim the unrestricted tackle record for both species.
Ruple was bowfishing with his son Steven Ruple, when he took both of the fish.
"I’ve been bowfishing about 2 years," Ruple said. "My son got me into it a couple of years ago, and he’s been bowfishing for 15 years or so."
Ruple says he’d always fished, but had not bowfished before his son introduced it to him.
"He said if I ever went that I’d like it, and he was right," Ruple said. "It’s an interesting sport."
The highfin carpsucker weighed only 1 pound, 12 ounces, but no record had ever been submitted for the species before. The river carpsucker, weighing 3 pounds, 2 ounces, bested the previous record, set in May by Ross Martin of Cabot.
Martin and the Ruples may be trading punches in the state recordbooks for a while, as they have started to make a friendly competition out of claiming the next record with a bow.
"We knew that the river carpsucker would be a state record because we knew Ross’s record," Ruple said. "We didn’t know about the high fin, because we didn’t know if any record had been established for it yet."
According to Justin Stroman, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission biologist who verified the species of the two fish, carpsuckers are a fairly common fish in the Arkansas River, although highfin carpsuckers are not as numerous as river carpsuckers.
"According to Fishes of Arkansas, river carpsuckers can get to about 10 pounds, and high fins can get up to 2 pounds," Stroman said. "Highfin carpsuckers typically prefer clearer, less silty waters than the Arkansas River, so it was somewhat unusual to see a record from there. Most of the distribution within the state is in the mountainous portion of the White River."
Ruple says he and his son always have it in their mind to claim another record if they get the chance, but says taking two records in the same night was very unusual.
"You’re always aiming for the record, but it doesn’t work out like this very often," Ruple said. "I’ve gotten a few spotted gar that were close to that record, so we may be able to keep this going."