Potential World Record Paddlefish

Potential World Record Paddlefish

The world record for paddlefish taken with rod and reel will likely fall to a giant 146.7-pound Oklahoma monster snagged at Keystone Lake on June 28 by James Lukehart of Edmond.

The massive fish was confirmed as the official new state record for that species, beating the previous record of 143 pounds set just over a month ago by Jeremiah Mefford of Kiefer, who was on hand to see his state record fall by the wayside.

Mefford is a fishing guide, and Lukehart was his client when he snagged the huge paddlefish. Mefford provided a witness signature on the record fish affidavit.

The standing rod-and-reel world-record American paddlefish, taken from a Kansas pond in 2004, is listed at 144 pounds. The largest American paddlefish on record, taken by a spearfisherman in Iowa in 1916, reportedly weighed 198 pounds.

Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation Senior Fisheries Biologist Jason Schooley and Fisheries Technician Eric Brennan were able to quickly travel to Keystone Lake to weigh and certify the potential world-record fish.

Lukehart’s monster measured 70.5 inches in length and 45 inches in girth. Under the guidance of ODWC, the fish was released and monitored after official measurements were taken.

Paddlefish are filter feeders and do not go after bait, so the preferred method to catch them is by snagging. Most fishing record-keepers do not recognize fish caught by snagging. Schooley said Lukehart’s catch will become the recognized rod-and-reel world record after publication in scientific literature.

Several variables lined up in order for the record paddlefish to be certified by the Wildlife Department. The fish was snagged on a Sunday, a day when harvest is allowed. (Paddlefish regulations prohibit harvest on Mondays and Fridays, and ODWC will not certify any paddlefish records on those days.) Also, ODWC employees were nearby and were able to respond in a timely manner to certify the fish and complete the affidavit.

The paddlefish is a primitive species, with a fossil record dating to the age of the dinosaurs about 75 million years ago. Resembling a shark, it has smooth skin and a skeleton mostly of cartilage.

A long paddle-like blade, called a rostrum, extends forward from the fish’s head. The rostrum is covered with tens of thousands of sensory receptors that enable the fish to detect weak electrical fields produced by zooplankton, its primary food.

Oklahoma’s paddlefish population is recognized as among the healthiest in the nation, and the sport of snagging paddlefish draws anglers from across the country. The Wildlife Department’s paddlefish management program involves an extensive process of netting, weighing, measuring and marking paddlefish with metal bands on the lower jaw. For several months every year, the Department operates the Paddlefish Research Center near Miami, Oklahoma.

The American paddlefish roams lakes and rivers of the Mississippi and Missouri river basins. Paddlefish were once abundant across their range but have declined in many areas. These fish can live 25-30 years in Oklahoma.

Previous ArticleNext Article
Don McDowell, Arizona native, is an avid outdoorsman and has been an active bass pro fisherman for over 16 years and in the past 15 years has developed his own radio show promoting bass fishing and conservation efforts for bass fishing that escalated to nominations with several bass groups and organizations. In the past 12 years, Don has pursued his conservation agenda through AZBFN-TBF as Conservation Director and with the Arizona Game and Fish Department, in the spring of 2014 redesigned his website to include those efforts highlighted below and has increased the AZGFD exposure, public education of the AZGFD and Commission issues on his radio show and website soliciting local and national support for Arizona. 2014 has seen the founding of SRT Outdoors, Inc., 501 C3 organization, “Not for Profit, for Conservation” which is concentrating on grants for mitigating the effects of Gizzard Shad on Roosevelt lake thorough habitat enhancement, Florida Strain Bass stocking, lakes bottom mapping, etc. and feral hog research.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *