- Oklahoma fishing guide Rusty Pritchard specializes in catching large paddlefish and recently helped land one weighing 102-pounds which is a monster-sized fish
- Photographs of this behemoth 102-pound paddlefish caught on Grand Lake O’ The Cherokees in Northeast Oklahoma show how surreal this fish looks
- Read more FISHING stories here
Paddlefish are amongst the coolest and most peculiar-looking fish on the planet. Catching this oddly-shaped species isn’t just a matter of fishing the right lake, it also takes special tactics and gear.
Oklahoma-based fishing guide Rusty Pritchard of Pritchard’s Guide Service is an expert at catching paddlefish. A scroll through the pictures on his Facebook or Instagram pages shows that he’s a master at putting clients on these hard-to-catch fish.
There have been a few MASSIVE paddlefish caught in recent years. A new world record fish was caught in June of last Summer in Oklahoma’s Keystone Lake. That record-setting fish weighed an astounding 164 pounds, breaking the previous world record of 151 pounds. But photos of last Summer’s fish kind of obscure how big it is. While this recent 102-pound paddlefish caught by Rusty Pritchard of Pritchard’s Guide Service really shows how peculiar and quirky this species of fish appears.
102-Pound Paddlefish Caught In Oklahoma’s Grand Lake O’ The Cherokees
What Makes Paddlefish So Hard To Catch?
They are filter feeders which is the reason for their weird mouths. So in order to catch a paddlefish you need to snag one and then reel it in. These fish can reportedly live over 50 years and grow over 400-pounds but they were nearly extinct in parts of the USA after over-harvesting. They’ve seen received protected status and have been reintroduced in areas where their stocks dwindled.
Field & Stream‘s Ken Perrotte spoke with Pritchard about how he catches these fish.
He told F&S “we developed a deep-water trolling technique more than 20 years ago. We use Dreamweaver divers (similar to Dipsy Divers) to get the 12/0 treble hook down to where we’re marking the fish. In the winter, most fish will be in the main river channel. We find a big school, get our divers down and then the rest of it is mostly luck. The 102-pounder came out of 80 feet of water.”
I’ve written about paddlefish records and anglers catching large paddlefish for years but never until now have I seen someone call out the depths these fish are caught at. I had no idea they’re down that deep. Getting a treble hook down 80-feet deep to a fish that’s a filter feeder and somehow getting that hook into the fish’s mouth sounds like an impossibly complicated task but that’s fishing… If there’s a will, there’s a way.
If you are interested in paddlefish you will probably be intrigued by the lesser-known sturddlefish. It’s a hybrid cousin of the paddlefish and you can read all about it right there.