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Fisherman Credits Thirsty Cow for Missouri Record-Tying Longear Sunfish

“For an old guy and a veteran, I’ve seen a lot of things, so I was excited about this record”
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a cow in a pond farm beside the state record sunfish

Goad shares the honor of his record longear sunfish with a yearling cow who needed a drink. John Goad, via MDC

Jefferson City resident John Goad was having a slow day of throwline fishing on Frieda Lake in Crawford County, Missouri. Then Goad, who is in his 70s, ended up tying the state’s alternative-method longear sunfish record on May 8, shortly after moving to a new stretch of shoreline. The reason for his relocation? Livestock blowing up his spot.

Goad estimated he was only catching one fish for every 10 tosses of his throwline. He had fished this lake for a decade and usually had good luck with crappie, bluegill, and bass, but this day was different. That is, until a yearling heifer came strolling down to the water.

The cow waded in to her belly and began drinking. Goad moved down the shore to give the cow space, and his consideration was rewarded: he started catching fish on every throw. One of those fish was a 5-ounce longear sunfish.

“I’ve been fishing this lake for around 10 years and I’ve caught crappie, bass, bluegill—all pretty good sizes,” Goad told MDC. “But I’ve known there are good-sized sunfish for about seven or eight years and I’ve been trying to catch a record ever since.”

The sunfish tied the alternative method state record set in July 2021 by Robert Audrain IV on a private pond in Franklin County. Brian Longo caught the pole-and-line record longear sunfish, weighing 11 ounces, in June 2007 on a private pond.

A throwline is a fishing line with five or fewer hooks and one end attached to a permanent structure, similar to a trotline. Throwlines are popular for catfish and other larger species. They’re included in what MDC defines as acceptable alternative fishing methods, in addition to trotlines, limb lines, bank lines, jug lines, gigs, bows, crossbows, underwater spearfishing, snagging, snaring, grabbing, or using an atlatl. In other words, most anything goes for the alternative method category in the Show-Me State.  

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Goad is a lifelong angler with a passion for all things fishing. For him, this record was decades in the making.

“I was 5 years old when I first caught a longear sunfish, so I’ve been after this for 70 years,” Goad said. “Catching a record is a really tough deal. For an old guy and a veteran, I’ve seen a lot of things, so I was excited about this record.”