Teen Makes Headlines for Viral Fishing Trip On Prom Night

Photo Credit: Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency / Facebook / @maryjomattingly / Instagram
Photo Credit: Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency / Facebook / @maryjomattingly / Instagram

A Tennessee high school student is making headlines after she shared a photo of the walleye she caught while night fishing with her boyfriend. However, it wasn’t the catch that caught the public’s attention – it’s the fact she snagged the freshwater fish on the night of her junior prom!

Walleye fish being held above water
Photo Credit: Dennis Anderson / Star Tribune / Getty Images

MaryJo Mattingly and Luke Lankford, who both attend Anderson County High School in Clinton, Tennessee, had started the night at prom. Just prior to heading out, Mattingly shared adorable pictures of her and her boyfriend to her Instagram page.

According to the pair, they were at the prom for about an hour before they decided they’d had enough fun. They then traveled to Melton Hill Lake for some night fishing. Speaking with WAGM, Lankford shared he’d been fishing his entire life and introduced the hobby to Mattingly about a year ago.

While the pair were fishing, Mattingly, dressed in comfy clothes but still wearing her prom-night nails, caught a walleye, which weighed in at 7.06 pounds. While nowhere near close to the state record of 25 pounds, set back in 1960, the circumstances surrounding the catch caught the attention of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency.

The state agency wrote on Facebook, “Big Fish Alert! MaryJo Mattingly and Luke Lankford of Anderson County High School went night fishing on Melton Hill Lake after their junior prom and she caught this 7.06 lbs. walleye. Note she still has her makeup and nails on!”

Since being posted on April 24, 2023, the post has garnered public attention, with nearly 200 people sharing comments. Tyler Teague, speaking to Lankford, commented, “You better marry that young lady, young man! That is the real catch,” while Beth Ender wrote, “Congratulations! That girl is a keeper!”

Others commented on how great a memory the catch will become. Allison Nikki Phillips Littleton wrote, “I love this! What a wonderful junior prom Tennessee memory! He’s one lucky guy,” while Jennifer Lassiter commented, “Now that is a prom date!”

Four walleyes swimming underwater
Photo Credit: Dennis Anderson / Star Tribune / Getty Images

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As for Mattingly, she told WAGM, “Catching the fish was pretty cool. I mean, that’s a pretty cool thing to remember.”


Clare Fitzgerald is a Writer and Editor with eight years of experience in the online content sphere. Graduating with a Bachelor of Arts from King’s University College at Western University, her portfolio includes coverage of digital media, current affairs, history and true crime.

Among her accomplishments are being the Founder of the true crime blog, Stories of the Unsolved, which garners between 400,000 and 500,000 views annually, and a contributor for John Lordan’s Seriously Mysterious podcast. Prior to its hiatus, she also served as the Head of Content for UK YouTube publication, TenEighty Magazine.

In her spare time, Clare likes to play Pokemon GO and re-watch Heartland over and over (and over) again. She’ll also rave about her three Maltese dogs whenever she gets the chance.

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