Another state fish record bites the dust!
For the fifth time in two
weeks a new state fish record has been broken. This was no Aprils fool’s joke
when Shane McCleary of Blackwell landed a new state record paddlefish
weighing 121.2 pounds April 1 below Kaw dam.
McCleary usually fishes
the Kaw Tailwaters regularly between February and the middle of March for
paddlefish, before concentrating on crappie.
“I heard reports of
people snagging paddlefish below the dam at Kaw Lake. I thought I would run
out there before work and give it a try,” McCleary said.
McCleary was below the dam snagging for about an hour when the
dam gates were closed. McCleary caught and released about five paddlefish
when he hooked what was to become a new state record.
Catch and release fishing does not harm
paddlefish and is allowed year-round until an angler reaches his limit of one
and then the angler must stop snagging.
Mature paddlefish begin staging at the upper end of reservoirs in early
spring in anticipation of the spawning run. As water temperatures rise and
rains bring water levels up, paddlefish begin moving upstream to spawn.
their annual spring spawning run paddlefish can be more vulnerable to
overharvest. To provide the maximum sustainable fishing opportunities and to
ensure the long-term health of the paddlefish population, the Wildlife
Department has modified the fishing regulations which pertain to paddlefish.
regulations were amended to ensure that paddlefish will be abundant for many
years to come. The daily bag limit on paddlefish taken during the spawning
season was reduced from three fish to one per day. The new rules define a
hook used in snagging as one single hook or one treble hook and require all
hooks to be barbless. Anglers will be required to tag (with name, address and
license number) all paddlefish and paddlefish parts until reaching their
residence. For complete paddlefish regulations, check out the “2003 Oklahoma
Fishing Guide” available at license vendors across the state.
“I thought it was a carp
or shad, then it turned and ran, hit the end of the line and peeled off about
15 yards of line at a high rate of speed,” said McCleary. “I fought it out in
the current when it turned and swam up to me then made a another good run
about 20 yards from me. I thought it was a pretty good fish when it rolled
and I guessed it at 60-70 pounds. When it got closer I realized I had never
seen a fish that big around. It took me about five minutes to land her.”
His first instinct was to
let the fish go. McCleary releases the fish he snags.
“I enjoy the thrill of
snagging. I was going to turn the fish loose, until the guy next to me talked
me out of it,” McCleary said.
The huge fish weighed
121.2 pounds and was 53 1/2 inches long. The girth was 42 1/4 inches. The
previous paddlefish record of 112 pounds was set by Gene Johnson who snagged
the big paddlefish from the Tailwaters of Grand in July of 1992.
or spoonbills, are large, prehistoric fish found in Oklahoma mainly in the
Grand and Neosho river systems. Paddlefish, which can grow to over six feet
long and weigh over 100 pounds, gather algae and zooplankton from the water
by swimming slowly with their mouths open.
This prehistoric prize
can be caught by snagging with a stout surf rod, heavy test line, and a 12/0
treble hook. The tailwaters of Kaw is not the only place to fish for these
large fish, other top paddlefish spots are places on the Neosho River like
the Riverview City Park in Miami, Conner and Twin Bridges (above Grand Lake),
Ft. Gibson and Oologah.
For a complete list of
the regulation changes consult the “2003 Oklahoma Fishing Guide” or log onto
the Department's web site at www.wildlifedepartment.com.
If you think you may have hooked a record fish it
is important that you weigh the fish on an Oklahoma State Department of
Agriculture certified scale and the weight is verified by a Wildlife