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This time, a huge paddlefish snagged at Keystone Lake is the state record

Jeremiah Mefford and his son, Brady, 8, pose with the new state record 143-pound paddlefish caught May 23 on Keystone Lake. [PHOTO BY JASON SCHOOLEY/ODWC]
Jeremiah Mefford and his son, Brady, 8, pose with the new state record 143-pound paddlefish caught May 23 on Keystone Lake. [PHOTO BY JASON SCHOOLEY/ODWC]

Keystone Lake would have coughed up the state record paddlefish in February, but it was snagged on a designated catch and release only day in the state's fishing regulations so it could not be kept and officially weighed for a potential record.

The fishing guide who helped his client snag that 157-pound paddlefish in February on Keystone Lake now holds the record. Jeremiah Mefford snagged a 143-pound paddlefish on Keystone Lake on May 23 over the Memorial Day weekend, breaking the state record of 132 pounds, 8 ounces, which was caught in April 2018 in the Arkansas River upstream from Keystone Lake.

The new state record paddlefish, commonly called spoonbills by Oklahoma anglers, measured 176 inches in length. State regulations for paddlefish allow anglers to keep only one paddlefish in a day’s fishing and they must stop fishing as soon as one is kept. The annual limit is two — which must be reported online — and Fridays and Mondays are catch-and-release only.

Mefford is a Tulsa firefighter who guides part-time for paddlefish as Reel Good Time Guide Service on Keystone Lake.

After meeting state wildlife biologists to officially weigh the record spoonbill, Mefford assisted them in reviving and successfully releasing the fish back into the lake by pulling it slowly through the water with his boat.

The new state record might not last very long as there is already proof of at least one much bigger spoonbill in the lake.

Wildlife Department cancels this year's Wildlife Expo

The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation has canceled its annual Wildlife Expo, which was scheduled in September at the Lazy E Arena and Ranch near Guthrie.

"The coordinating committee and directors debated long and hard on the question, and it was apparent that canceling this year's Wildlife Expo was the best thing to do for the Wildlife Department, but more importantly for the safety of those attending the event," said Don Brown, spokesman for the Wildlife Department.

Even though the event was still more than three months away, Brown said the actual preparation for the event would need to begin now.

"And with the current situation, several contractors and vendors that we normally work with to make the Expo happen are unsure how the COVID-19 pandemic is going to play out and cannot offer us solid assurances," he said.

The Wildlife Expo will return in 2021.

Tuesday is the deadline to apply for Selman Bat Watch

The summer bat watches at the Selman Bat Cave near Freedom will still happen but with fewer visitors. The number of spectators allowed for the nightly viewings in July will be reduced from 75 to 50.

People hoping to attend a Selman Bat Watch have through Tuesday to apply. Only mailed registration forms postmarked on or before June 2 will be accepted by the Wildlife Department. Go to wildlifedepartment.com to download and print a registration form.

Bat watches occur on Friday and Saturday nights from July 10 to Aug. 1. Admission to the Selman Bat Watch is $14 for adults and $8 for children. Children must be 8 or older to attend.

Viewers get to see a colony of Mexican free-tailed bats as it leaves the cave at dusk to hunt for flying insects during the night.

More fishing and hunting news

• June 6 and 7 will be free fishing days in the state. Anglers, both residents and nonresidents, will not be required to possess a state fishing license on those days.

Some municipal fishing licenses or permits may still be required. Oklahoma City will waive its requirement for city fishing permits on June 6 and 7.

• The 53rd annual Walleye Rodeo on Canton Lake has been rescheduled for June 18-21. The state's oldest fishing tournament was postponed from its usual May dates because of the COVID-19 outbreak.

• The annual Okie Noodling Tournament, scheduled for June 19-20 in Pauls Valley, has been canceled due to the COVID-19 health crisis.

• Results of the drawings for the 2020-21 controlled hunts in the state are now available online at wildlifedepartment.com. Winners will be notified by email.

Ed Godfrey

Ed Godfrey was born in Muskogee and raised in Stigler. He has worked at The Oklahoman for 25 years. During that time, he has worked a myriad of beats for The Oklahoman including both the federal and county courthouse in Oklahoma City for more... Read more ›

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