The best of the year’s paddlefishing may be coming to a close in Oklahoma, but not before Steven McBride of Yukon reeled in a massive 114-pounder May 12 from below Kaw Dam near Ponca City.
“This was a great catch,” said Larry Green, game warden stationed in Osage Co. for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.
“We are entering the time of year that offers some of the very best fishing for black bass, striper, catfish and others, but McBride’s catch shows that getting out there and paddlefishing is still paying off for some anglers.”
McBride’s paddlefish fell slightly short of the state record, a 121-pound fish caught by Shane McCleary out of the Kaw tailwaters in 2003. However, McBride’s fish measured 54 inches in length from the front of the eye to the fork of the tail, about a half-inch longer than McCleary’s state record.
Coming shy of the record didn’t seem to faze McBride. Though he’s only been paddlefishing a few times, he loves to “feel the power” of a paddlefish on the line. “It’s addictive once you hook one,” McBride said.
When McBride first snagged the fish, he thought it was a small one because the monster initially swam toward him. But eventually it turned and gave McBride and his 40 lb. test line a half-hour fight. McBride’s dad steered the boat to shore, where the fishing line linking McBride to his trophy snapped in two. McBride scrambled into the water in time to grip his broken line and was able to bring the fish the rest of the way in by hand without a rod and reel. The fish is being mounted by a taxidermist.
“This is an exciting story – one of those you tell your friends and family for years to come,” Green said.
One of Oklahoma’s largest fish, paddlefish feed on tiny, microscopic insects and are caught during the spring by snagging with a surf rod, heavy test line and large barbless hooks. In Oklahoma, they are found in several river systems and lakes.
To learn more about paddlefish and the extensive management and tagging program for the prehistoric fish, log on to wildlifedepartment.com. Green said that although paddlefishing is slowing down statewide, fishing for other species is just picking up.
“We’ve yet to see the best fishing of the year,” Green said. “When it comes to many of Oklahoma’s most popular and readily available fish, the angling is just now starting to get hot.”
Story courtesy of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, www.wildlifedepartment.com.