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Wife is ‘real’ angler, but husband lands record paddlefish

Wife is ‘real’ angler, but husband lands record paddlefish thumbnail

An Oklahoma man who said his wife is the “real fisherwoman” of the family set a state record Sunday by landing a 146-pound, 11-ounce paddlefish.

James Lukehart’s catch also eclipsed the unofficial rod-and-reel world record – a 144-pound paddlefish pulled from a Kansas pond in 2018 – by nearly three pounds.

(Paddlefish, which eat plankton, are caught with snagging techniques and world records are kept mostly by scientists.)

Lukehart was fishing with his wife, Caitlin, on Keystone Lake, site of several recent impressive paddlefish catches. In fact, the Lukeharts’ guide, Jeremiah Mefford, held the previous state record.

Mefford, who runs Reel Good Time Guide Service, told For The Win Outdoors that watching Lukehart beat the record he set in May “was the best feeling ever,” and added: “I would watch it 100 times again.”

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Both paddlefish were carefully released with the assistance of a state biologist. (Paddlefish are fragile and regulations are strict. Anglers must use barbless hooks and can harvest only two paddlefish per year.)

Lukehart, who is from Edmond, told The Oklahoman that he likes to hunt and that his wife is the “real fisherwoman.” The couple had hoped merely to catch a paddlefish they could cook in the smoker.

Caitlin caught an 82-pound paddlefish that “we thought was enormous,” Lukehart said. He later hooked the true giant, measuring 70.5 inches and boasting a 45-inch girth.

“We got out there in the morning and kind of joked around about catching a state record,” Lukehart recalled. “I had no idea that there was even a world-record fish out there. And let alone did I know I was fishing with the guy who had the state record. Until I caught it, I had no idea.”

The fish made several long runs before it could be handled safely alongside the boat.

According to the Tulsa World, Lukehart waded with the paddlefish to keep water moving through its gills until Jason Schooley, senior fisheries biologist for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, arrived to collect a weight and measurements.

Schooley stayed with the fish until he felt it could swim off on its own. The swimming pattern was then monitored from the boat via sonar equipment, and the fish seemed to be OK.

–Images showing James Lukehart and his record paddlefish are courtesy of Reel Good Time Guide Service

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