A Chickasha man has a story to tell after he caught a paddlefish that almost broke the state record.
Erick Hernandez was fishing in Keystone Lake on Saturday when he landed the 138.3-pound (approx. 63-kilogram) female paddlefish.
Hernandez was guided by Jeremiah Mefford, of Reel Good Time Guide Service, who recently set the state record of 143 pounds (approx. 65 kg).
A biologist with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation said since the fish was harvested, they were able to confirm it was female; however, it was loaded with fat and possibly sterile.
Rather than losing weight by generating up to one-quarter of her body weight in eggs and then spawning, sterile fish are able to convert all the energy they consume into fat and can grow quite heavy over their lifespan, wildlife officials say.
Closely related to the sturgeon, paddlefish have been referred to as freshwater sharks and are a relic species with morphological adaptations retained from ancient ancestors. They inhabit the Mississippi and other gulf drainages throughout the United States.
Like sharks, paddlefish are almost entirely cartilaginous, with a pronounced snout that can be as long as one-third the length of its body. The freshwater fish's caudal (tail) fin also resembles that of a shark.
Unlike most sharks, however, paddlefish are filter feeders whose main food source consists of plankton.