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Angler Turns Potential World Record Into Fertilizer

97-pound bighead carp: "I'm going to eat it in the form of tomatoes and cucumbers."

Angler Turns Potential World Record Into Fertilizer

The current IGFA world record for bighead carp is 90 pounds, but a recent catch in Missouri could replace it. (Shutterstock image)

For the second time in a week, the Show Me State of Missouri has shown that fishing within its borders can be world-class.

That thought comes after news broke that angler George Chance of Festus, Mo., had caught a 97-pound bighead carp from the Mississippi River on March 19, 2024.

With the fish being invasive and being full of eggs, Missouri officials encourage anglers to harvest such bighead carp to remove them from the state's waterways. Chance did just that: "I chopped up the fish and put it in my garden (as fertilizer)," he said. "I'm going to eat it in the form of tomatoes and cucumbers."

record bighead carp
George Chance was bank fishing from the Mississippi River March 19 when he reeled in a monster 97-pound bighead carp. The fish not only beats the previous state record of 80 pounds, but beats the current pole-and-line world record weight of 90 pounds. (Courtesy photo)

While the fish isn't desirable in the U.S., few anglers would push back on the big-fish pull of a 97-pound giant. Because in addition to breaking the previous pole-in-line record for the invasive species, Chance broke it by a large margin, topping the previous state record for the species that came when an 80-pound bighead carp was pulled from Lake of the Ozarks in 2004.

But Chance's fish didn't just shatter the existing Missouri state record for the species, it also bested the current International Game Fish Association all-tackle world record for bighead carp. Assuming that Chance's world-record application is approved by the IGFA, his big fish appears poised to supplant the 90-pound bighead carp caught at Tennessee's Guntersville Lake on June 2, 2005 by angler Jeffrey Rorex.

If it does indeed do that, it will be Missouri's second world record in less than a week. The first came on Sunday, March 17, 2024, when Kansas angler Chad Williams snagged what could be the new Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame world record paddlefish after he landed a 164-pound, 13-ounce paddlefish from Lake of the Ozarks.

The IGFA, which is the longtime keeper of angling records across the globe, doesn’t recognize snagged fish in its record keeping system.

The filter-feeding paddlefish with its outsized rostrum—or spoonbill—can’t be caught with traditional rod, reel and hook methods and must be snagged.

While the IGFA doesn’t recognize snagged paddlefish, the FWFHOF does and that gives anglers and paddlefish enthusiasts a benchmark for comparison.




In the case of Chance's world-class bighead carp from Missouri, those outsized specimens can be caught using a traditional rod-and-reel, too, hence the reason that the IGFA is willing to potentially recognize the invasive species' biggest fish, even if it comes from waters found outside of the eastern Asia region where it's from.

The species is considered highly destructive and, along with the invasive and related silver carp, were originally brought into the U.S. to help improve water quality in sewage treatment plants and aquaculture facilities. Unfortunately, some specimens escaped into the Mississippi River basin, and the rest is unwanted history.

Because of the effects that they can have on a water body's biomass and game-fish species, a national action plan has been implemented by a host of local, state and national government agencies grouped together into the "Invasive Carp Regional Coordinating Committee." They are diligently at work using all methods they can to prevent the various invasive carp species from spreading to other waters and potentially infesting the Great Lakes.

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Chance certainly did his part in turning the 97-pound invasive carp into a big amount of fertilizer for his garden. But first, he had to catch and land the beast, which a Missouri Department of Conservation news release says took a crankbait hitting the river bottom as the angler tried to catch one of the big catfish that the mighty Mississippi is known for.

When he set the hook, it didn't take long for Chance to realize what he was up against.

“You kind of know what a fish is once you hook into it based on how it fights,” Chance told the story’s author, Jill Pritchard. “It was moving pretty slow and I originally thought it could be a flathead.”

Chance told Pritchard that he fought the fish for around 20 minutes, finally able to wrestle it to shore.

“The more it fought, I saw it’s tail and knew it was some type of carp,” he said. “I was able to hook him with a hay hook in order to get him out of the water. It looked to be 50 or 60 pounds at least.”

After landing the monster bighead carp, Chance took it to a nearby recycling center to use their scale and see what it actually weighed. When the numbers settled on the scale, the angler then summoned a local Missouri DNC conservation agent.

“They told me it was a state record, and I said, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me!’”, laughed Chance in recounting his big fish story. “Then later they said, ‘It’s not just a state record, it’s a world record!’ and I said ‘You’ve got to be kidding me!’ I had no idea this would happen would I woke up that morning.”

In addition to becoming the second apparent world record pulled from Missouri waters in less than a week, the bighead carp caught by Chance also becomes the third state-record fish caught in Missouri this year.

The first was a 12-ounce yellow perch caught on a throwline on Jan. 3, 2024 by Lake Lotawna, Mo. angler Jeffrey Needles. The next was Chad Williams' world record paddlefish snagged at Lake of the Ozarks last Sunday. And the third was George Chance's world record catch on Tuesday of this week as he hooked and landed the biggest bighead carp ever seen at the end of an angler's line.

Obviously, when it comes to big fish in Missouri, anglers are showing the world just how big the fish can be that swim beneath the Show Me State's placid waters.

If you find yourself fishing in Missouri this year, and catch a fish that might be record book sized, the state's Department of Conservation notes that state record fish are recognized in two categories in Missouri, either pole-and-line catches or catches coming by alternative methods.

If you're unfamiliar with alternative methods in fishing, the MDC indicates that "Alternative methods include trotline, throwline, limb line, bank line, jug line, gig, bow, crossbow, underwater spearfishing, snagging, snaring, grabbing, or atlatl."

Whether you catch a big-record fish in Missouri by rod-and-reel or with the alternative methods described above, you can find out more information on state record fish and how to enter potential specimens by visiting the MDC website.

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