Jeffrey Needles caught the new state record on a throwline
Jeffrey Needles holds up the new Missouri state-record yellow perch alongside his two kids. Photo courtesy of Missouri Dept. of Conservation
Missouri’s first record fish of 2024 is officially in the books. The 12-ounce yellow perch was caught by Jeffrey Needles on Lake Lotawana, a small, 600-acre lake southeast of Kansas City. Needles was lucky enough to catch the state-record perch while fishing the lake with his family on Jan. 3.
Needles caught the fish on a “throwline” and not a rod-and-reel, so it will fall under the Missouri Department of Conservation’s “alternative method” record category. Other alternative methods accepted by the state agency include trotlining, spearfishing, and bowfishing. The MDC points out in a press release that the previous alternative methods record for yellow perch weighed 10 ounces and was caught from a private pond in 2019.
Needles, who also lives in the city of Lake Lotawana, knew about the standing record and had long thought about beating it. When he headed out to go fishing that morning, he told his wife he’d do just that.
“I’d talked about breaking this record a lot,” Needles told the MDC. “My wife asked me what I was doing that day and I jokingly told her, ‘I’m going out to break the record for yellow perch!’”
The new record holder was unavailable for comment. However, Outdoor Life touched base with a couple of the folks at MDC who helped confirm and verify Needles’ state-record perch.
“The weather that day wasn’t too bad, in the 40s, and Needles caught the fish within an hour of fishing the lake,” Missouri’s record fish coordinator Andrew Branson tells Outdoor Life. “He just used a bait on a hook and landed the fish.”
Branson explains that Needles contacted the state immediately after catching his yellow perch. He then met MDC fisheries biologist Caleb Pemberton at a nearby grocery store in Blue Springs. They weighed and measured the fish on a certified scale there, and Pemberton positively identified it as a yellow perch. He also helped Needles fill out the necessary paperwork to certify the record, which was made official on Jan. 11.
Needles went out of his way to keep the fish in the water (presumably in a live well) while transporting it to and from the grocery store. He then released it alive and well back into Lake Lotawana.
“Having my kids there for that moment made it even more special.” said Needles, who plans to have a replica mount made of his record-breaking yellow perch.