Is This Michigan's Biggest Carp Ever on Rod & Reel?

Photo courtesy of Daniel Slaby.

Anglers dream about the day they catch THAT fish. While many settle for fish of respectable sizes and enlarge the story, others are fortunate enough to realize that dream.

Michigan angler Daniel Slaby is of the latter group. While fishing a private inland lake in Michigan last summer, Slaby landed a massive 56-pound, 4-ounce carp that could be the biggest ever caught in Michigan with rod and reel.

An avid carp angler and USA Carp Anglers Group (CAG) member, Slaby set out on his quest to land trophy carp two years ago when the birth of his son and a new job meant less time for the water.

"I decided to focus solely on trophy carp," he said, adding, "and through word of mouth I knew just the lake to try."

He was unable to fish this private lake without permission, though.

Lucky for him, Slaby was contracted to a job on the lake in 2013, which presented him the opportunity to speak with the owner about fishing opportunities. After a discussion about methods of fishing and tactics, the owner granted Slaby permission to fish.

But that was in late November. Slaby would have to endure the long, cold Michigan winter before taking to the lake to see his quest through.

He spent the winter preparing his baits and developing tactics to specifically target the monster carp in the lake.

The spring thaw allowed him to pre-bait the waters for the first few weeks with small amounts of World Classic Baits 12mm boiles, increasing in both size and amount as temperatures warmed.

Lack of fish activity early in the season had Slaby's confidence fading, but he was not one to give up. Plus, the stories were too good to ignore this opportunity.

Arriving early at the lake to set up for a four-day excursion, the action was extremely slow at first. It wasn't until mid-afternoon that he got his first bite, a 30-pound carp. This set off a chain reaction of bites as a school of big fish moved in.

Slaby landed a 41-pound, 2-ounce carp that was not only a personal best, but the first 40-pound carp caught in Michigan by a CAG member.

Sure, the 41-pound catch was nice, but, as he told his wife on the phone, if he left then, he "wouldn't get the 50 pounder [he] was after."

While sitting in his bivvy a few hours later, his boilie took off with the rod giving chase. Slaby typically doesn't run for the rod, but the monster on the other end forced him to this time.

A prolonged fight ensued. The giant continued taking line as it moved from 20- to 40-foot waters, changing directions on a dime and even becoming snagged at one point.

It wasn't until he noticed in the not too far off distance the carp's head breach the water that Slaby knew this was a special fish — definitely over 50 pounds.

It was only a few more minutes before he had the fish in the net. He then zeroed his scale to find out just how big the monster carp was.

The scales tipped at 56 pounds, 4 ounces. Slaby called CAG President Andy Sprinkle to witness and verify the weight, as the fish will enter the CAG records as the biggest in the club's history. Slaby, a strong supporter of catch-and-release, released the massive carp after weighing it.

In order for Slaby's catch to qualify as a Michigan state record, he would've been required to keep it and have it verified by a DNR fisheries biologists.

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