Oklahoma Angler Nabs State Record Paddlefish

Oklahoma Angler Nabs State Record Paddlefish
Oklahoma Angler Nabs State Record Paddlefish

At first, Aaron Stone didn't realize that the paddlefish he'd caught was as big as it turned out to be

Aaron Stone, 21, Pawhuska, reeled in this 125-lb. 7-oz. state record Paddlefish April 10 from the Arkansas River.

A paddlefish that was caught April 10 has become a new state record fish, pushing aside a record held since 2003 and proving that there are always bigger fish to catch.

Aaron Stone of Pawhuska was snagging around 11 a.m. April 10 in the Arkansas River when he hooked the large fish, which he finally reeled in after 40-minutes of reeling and what he said was a 15-foot slide down an embankment. The 'spoonbill' measured 55 inches in length, 41.75 inches in girth and weighed 125-lb., 7 oz.

This has been Stone's first year to try fishing for paddlefish, and at first, the 21-year-old angler didn't realize just how big of a fish he had caught. His father-in-law, an experienced paddlefish angler, encouraged him to have the fish weighed.

The previous state record paddlefish was reeled in from the Kaw tailwaters by Shane McCleary in April 2003.

Snagging is the primary method for catching paddlefish, since the fish eat mainly microscopic zooplankton and therefore are not inclined to bite on lifelike lures. During the spring, paddlefish swim upstream from lakes in rivers to spawn, resulting in concentrated numbers of fish that anglers can snag more easily.

Paddlefish routinely weigh over 30 lbs., with females taking eight to 10 years to mature to breeding age and males taking six to eight years. Because they are slow to mature, careful management of paddlefish populations is critical, and the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation's paddlefish management program is supplying biologists with information they need to make important decisions to benefit the species. The Department uses its paddlefish research and processing center in northeast Oklahoma to gather harvest data on fish voluntarily supplied by anglers. In exchange for biological information from fish, the Department cleans and packages fish for anglers to take home and eat.

When asked if he would continue fishing for paddlefish, Stone's answer comes as no surprise to those who have experienced spoonbill fishing.

"Oh, yeah," he said. "We're hooked on it."

For a complete list of record fish and the procedures regarding certifying state record fish, consult the current "Oklahoma Fishing Guide" or log on to wildlifedepartment.com. Anglers who believe they may have hooked a record fish must weigh the fish on an Oklahoma State Department of Agriculture certified scale, and a Wildlife Department employee must verify the weight.

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