Chicago Angler Accidentally Catches Enormous Record-Breaking Carp

by Jon D. B.

“I wash fishing for bass,” the Chicago angler admits. But what he first thought was a huge catfish turned out to be a record-breaking carp.

Jarrett Knize is well on his way to shattering the Illinois state record for bighead carp. He’s already done so unofficially, but the paperwork for these things takes time.

What we do know is that Knize caught his bighead this past Saturday in Chicago’s Humboldt Park. Armed with a 13 Fishing Magic Man and lipless crankbait rig, the carp snagged his line around 4 PM, cites the Chicago Sun Times.

“I was fishing for bass,” Knize admits. “It started running and it was running clearly faster than a big turtle. So I thought it might be a 50-pound catfish.”

The angler came prepared, however. Packing 25-pound Seaguar Abrazx line, Jarrett’s rig held firm. The resulting catch – one of many invasive carp – is nothing short of flabbergasting.

That’s an enormous bighead carp, right there. So enormous, in fact, that the original scale Knize took it to for weighing wasn’t big enough. This scale, via Park Bait at Montrose Harbor, was the first of three to take the carp’s weight.

Next up, Cory Gecht took the mammoth fish to his larger – but still uncertified scale – where the carp weighed in at an astounding 74 pounds. As for it’s sheer size, the bighead came in at 52 inches long with a girth of 34 12 inches.

From here, the quest for a record-breaker brought Knize south to Bridgeport. There, Tom Palmisano, proprietor of Henry’s Sports and Bait would open his shop after hours so Knize could weigh the carp on their biggest certified scale. He did so, an the bighead came in at 72 pounds, 8 ounces.

The Quest for a Record-Breaking Carp

Currently, angler Jack Bailey holds the in-state record (hook-and-line) for bighead carp. Bailey’s carp was a whopping 69 pounds, brought in on May 4, 2010. His Kaskaskia River catch happened below the Carlyle Dam, Chicago Sun Times cites. Yet this is almost 4-pounds shy of Knize’s hopeful bighead.

As such, if Knize gets his carp accepted by Illinois officials, then he’ll take the crown and title. For this to happen, Michael McClelland (chief of fisheries for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources) will have to examine evidence, sign papers, and then submit Knize for the record.

Thankfully, that evidence is already in good order for the angler. As with most angling records, witnesses had to be present for the initial weighing. Chicago Sun Times cites both Randy Koronkiewicz and Tom Palmisano as present for the official scale’s results.

The carp is causing such a stir, too, that Illinois’ assistant chief of fisheries for the IDNR, Kevin Irons, is asking that the head of the carp (at the least) be kept for the IDNR. Palmisano is stepping up here, too; keeping the bighead on ice at his shop until IDNR is ready for it.

If you’re a fellow Chicagoan, don’t be shy getting out there to try and break Knize’s record, either. Bighead carp are a harmful invasive species, so getting them out of Illinois waters is a big plus.