Teenager With Special Needs Catches World Record Paddlefish On Keystone Lake

Wednesday, June 23rd 2021, 8:36 am


An 18-year-old, born with special needs, now holds the world record for largest paddlefish ever caught.            

Grant Rader snagged the 164-pound giant at Keystone Lake Tuesday and said it was the best day of his life.

"It was heart-pounding, exciting-est moment of fishing career for me,” said Grant. “I can't describe it, it's one of the greatest things ever to be able to pull in that kind of new state and world record.”

Grant was born with a rare form of muscular dystrophy, but that has never held him back and he loves to fish.

“Before coming here and fishing here, [my biggest catch] was a six-pound bass at a neighborhood pound,’ Grant said.

Grant just turned 18 and graduated from high school. And to celebrate those two milestones, Grant, his dad, and grandpa drove from Wichita, Kansas to Oklahoma for an all-guys fishing trip.

“You can’t even describe it, it’s unreal,” Grant’s dad, Jason Rader said.

They went out with Jeremiah Mefford, who owns Reel Good Time Guide Service, Mefford has a reputation for putting his clients on big fish. It’s not uncommon for him to share pictures of fish that weigh in the triple digits. And he has guided two other clients to official world records on Keystone Lake over the past year.

“146.11 was number one, official. 151.9 was the second and now we're sitting at 164.0 so that I don't know if I'll be able to beat that one. That's gonna be very, very tough to find a fish of that size. We'll see. I never thought I do it a third time, but here we are today,” said Mefford. “It’s kind of unreal, to be honest with ya.”

Mefford said has a history with Grant's catch. He said he knows by a unique marking that it's the same fish client caught in February of 2020. It weighed 157 pounds then and was never certified as a world record.

“It's got a big, black spot, the same location as that 157 pounders. As soon as I saw that thing crest the top of the water, I knew exactly what fish it was. I've been looking for her for over a year now, finally found her,” said Mefford.

Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Fisheries Biologists weighed and certified the catch. Mefford gives them the credit for all the work they do to keep the paddlefish population thriving.

“These biologists are the ones that make it happen for the state of Oklahoma, so it’s really neat having them here. I’ve gained a lot of knowledge just talking to these guys,” Mefford said.

Cory Watters, the man who caught the 151.9-pound world record paddlefish, happened to be in the area and stopped by the lake to congratulate Grant on taking over the title.

“I knew I was gonna be beat, it was just a matter of time. I’m excited, though,” Watters said. “It’s over 10 pounds more than mine, so that’s amazing that they get that big.”

Grant and his family are still in awe over the record-breaking catch, but more than anything they’re grateful they were able to experience something so special together.

“Nothing like it. Couldn’t have had a better day for it,” Grant’s grandpa, Terry said. “We might have to make this an annual trip.”

And to add to an already fun trip, Grant went to the casino for the first time the night before his fishing trip and won a thousand dollars.