You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Guide finally gets to fish, smashes paddlefish record

For The Win logo For The Win 6/1/2020 Pete Thomas

a man holding a fish in the water: File Photo © Provided by For The Win File Photo An Oklahoma fishing guide had a lot going for him recently when he landed a 143-pound paddlefish that fought like "a small car" and shattered the state record.

To start with, Jeremiah Mefford was at Keystone Lake with family instead of clients, so he was free to fish rather than guide.

His wife and son had already released several paddlefish and they "both decided to let me reel one in and of course I'm OK with that," Mefford, who operates Reel Good Time Guide Service, wrote on social media. "Little did I know it was a true monster!"

a man holding a fish swimming under water: File Photo © Provided by For The Win File Photo

Given the size of the fish, Mefford was fortunate that it was a Saturday instead of a Friday or Monday, when all paddlefish must be immediately released.

RELATED: Angler's giant flathead catfish could shatter record

Fishing for paddlefish is strictly regulated and this rule has cost at least one of Mefford's clients to miss out on a record catch.

Also working in Mefford's favor, as they fished over Memorial Day weekend, was the swift arrival of two Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation biologists. This allowed the paddlefish to be weighed and safely released, instead of being harvested for the sake of a record.

Paddlefish, although they date back 125 million years, are fragile and need to swim constantly, so keeping them in a confined space over a long period is basically sentencing them to death.

ODWC biologist Jason Schooley told the Sand Springs Leader that he and another biologist "immediately headed to the lake with the scale, cradle, and additional equipment… We had the fish weighed within 68 minutes of receiving the call, and I felt that was about a best-case-scenario response time."

The fish was resuscitated in shallow water before it was set free. Schooley said the paddlefish "plainly swam into deeper water, remained upright, and we followed its directed swimming for a few minutes [via sonar] until we were convinced that the fish was likely to survive the experience."

Paddlefish are plankton eaters so snagging is the most effective angling method. Anglers can only use barbless hooks, which allow for easy releases. Anglers are allowed to harvest only two paddlefish per year.

Mefford said the 143-pound fish was surprisingly strong, and choppy water made the fight even more difficult.

"Hooked into a small car and the fight was on," he wrote. "This fish had my arms worn out and I was not quite sure if it was from my lack of working out or was it a GIANT? After fighting the fish for several minutes it surfaced about 40' from the boat and we got our first glimpse.

"As it wore out and got closer all I could think was wow, we did it again."

Mefford kept the fish in a live well while he waited for the biologists to arrive. It weighed 146 pounds on his boat scale, but the official weight, on a certified digital scale, was 143 pounds.

The previous Oklahoma record was the catch of a 132-pound, 8-ounce paddlefish in 2018 on the Arkansas River.

-Images showing Jeremiah Mefford (and son Brody) are courtesy of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation

MORE:

NBA buyout candidates: Who's available after 2020 trade deadline?

What verbal offers and commitments really mean for your athlete

AdChoices
AdChoices

More from For The Win

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon