Oklahoma catch-and-release law forces angler to let go of monstrous 157-lb. paddlefish

For angler Justin Hamlin, it’s the tale of the big fish that got away.

His Valentine’s Day monster catch was likely the biggest paddlefish ever caught, but will likely never appear in the record books because it was caught on a Friday, one of two days that the state’s catch-and-release law applies, the newspaper reported.

The state regulation requires that fish caught Mondays and Fridays be released immediately.

Justin Hamlin of Kerryville, Okla., caught a whopping 157-lb. paddlefish on Valentine's Day while fishing at Keystone Lake. State law forced him to return the fish to the water because Mondays and Fridays are catch-and-release days. (Oklahoma Department of Wildlife)

Justin Hamlin of Kerryville, Okla., caught a whopping 157-lb. paddlefish on Valentine’s Day while fishing at Keystone Lake. State law forced him to return the fish to the water because Mondays and Fridays are catch-and-release days. (Oklahoma Department of Wildlife)

Those same regulations say paddlefishers on other days may keep only one of the species in a day’s fishing, forcing them to stop as soon as one is kept.

Hamlin said in his Valentine’s outing with his wife — in which they caught five other fish — he was excited by the catch as the paddlefish fought him three times before he brought it in.

“It would come up to where you could see it and it would take off again,” he said.

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