Keystone Lake produces a new world record for the second year in a row.
June is the prime season for paddlefish snagging in Oklahoma, and for the second year in a row, Keystone Lake has produced a monstrous new world record fish. The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation announced on their social media that the paddlefish taken by 18-year-old Grant Rader on June 22 weighed in at a whopping 164 pounds.
That does not just edge out James Lukehart's record catch from last June, it smashes it by nearly 18 pounds. Lukehart's fish weighed in at 146 pounds, 11 ounces.
Tulsa World News reports that the massive plankton-feeding fish was 81.75 inches long and had an incredible girth of 43 inches. It was Rader's first time targeting paddlefish ever with his grandfather, father, and guide Jeremiah Mefford. The group caught and released a few fish before hooking into the record late in the day.
"It was indescribable how much fun it is and how much effort it is to get those things reeled in," Rader told Tulsa World. "It's not as easy as we think it is."
You may have heard guide Mefford's name before when it comes to big paddlefish. That is because he has been directly involved in the world record for paddlefish being broken a few times. The guide believes the fish Rader caught was the same one landed by another angler, Justin Hamlin in February 2019. That fish was caught on a catch-and-release day and weighed 157 pounds unofficially.
Tulsa World reports they believe it is the same fish due to a signature black spot on the animal's right side. The anglers believe the fish was a female that was not reproducing. It happens often on Keystone Lake and is one of the reasons the waters have become renowned as one of the best paddlefish fisheries on Earth.
Many of these non-reproducing paddlefish pack on fat and do not lose any by laying eggs every year. The fish died from the stress of the catch. The meat was distributed to people in need, and Rader will have a European mount made of the skull.
Because paddlefish eat only plankton, they cannot be targeted via normal fishing methods. This is why they are one of the few species that can be legally snagged during special seasons every year in the limited states this species calls home.
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