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The Biggest Fish Ever Caught will tell the tales behind the International Game Fishing Association's record-holding fish, including where they were bagged, what lines/lures the anglers used, and other tips and tricks. The dozen stories here are filled with amazing action and intriguing characters. They'll take you to lakes, streams, and oceans around the world and explore catch and release vs blood sport fishing, stocking and bioengineering, conservation – and controversy. All the while revealing the sorts of ...
The Biggest Fish Ever Caught will tell the tales behind the International Game Fishing Association's record-holding fish, including where they were bagged, what lines/lures the anglers used, and other tips and tricks. The dozen stories here are filled with amazing action and intriguing characters. They'll take you to lakes, streams, and oceans around the world and explore catch and release vs blood sport fishing, stocking and bioengineering, conservation – and controversy. All the while revealing the sorts of secrets fishermen don't usually like to share.
A twenty-six-year-old auto mechanic from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Adam Konrad was fishing the province's famous man-made Lake Diefenbaker one June day when he reeled in an astonishingly large rainbow trout – a 28.3-pound beauty. It was a new provincial record – but not quite as big as the 10-lb-line-class world-record rainbow caught on the same lake two years prior by Duane Farden. That one weighed 30.6 pounds. Not long after, Adam's identical twin, Sean, landed a big one, too. Between the two of them, the Konrad brothers hauled in a stream of giants during the span of three weeks. After the 28 pound fish came a 30 pounder and then the grande dame – these were all female fish – a 33.3 pounder.
The Konrads kept coming back, driving the 85 miles from their homes in Saskatoon to fish “Lake Dif”. And they kept pulling in massive fish, until Adam hooked a 43.6 pound rainbow and beat the world record.
Turns out there was a reason all these fish were so huge. They were escapees from CanGro Fish Farm, an aquaculture operation that raised genetically engineered rainbows in pens at head of Diefenbaker. CanGro harvest more than 2 million pounds of rainbow meat each year. These were special fish bred for the restaurant market, and they are not like their common cousins. Known as triploids – they have three chromosomes rather than the usual two, which renders them sterile. “They don't reproduce, therefore they can put more energy into their growth,” says Norm Dyck, a fisheries biologist for the Province of Saskatchewan. “That's basically why they can get so big.” Indeed, the fish are famous for eating and eating and eating and growing and growing and growing.
The triploids escaped that fateful night in 2000 when a big piece of ice tore a hole in their containment pen. More than 500,000 of them – Wildwest Steelhead – as the company called them, swam off that evening and began new lives as Diefenbaker gamefish.
Excerpted from The Biggest Fish Ever Caught by Andrew Vietze Copyright © 2013 by Andrew Vietze. Excerpted by permission.
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Table of Contents Chapter 1 When Lester Anderson pulled a 97-pound king salmon out of the Kenai River on an Alaska fishing trip in 1985, he didn't think much of it. Oh, it was big, he'd spent an hour and a half landing it, and his brother-in-law Bud almost blew him out of the back of the boat when he started the motor, but it was just another fish. He and Bud got into the river, muscled it into their boat, and kept fishing for several hours. Then he left it on his lawn for a while. By the time someone told him he should weigh it, because it looked like a record breaker, it had probably lost 3 or 4 pounds due to dehydration. And it still broke the record. Chapter 2 Alfred Dean always said he wanted to catch the biggest fish in the sea. And he came as close as anyone ever has. The two largest fish are filter feeders and can't be caught on bait. But the next biggest – the Great White Shark – could. Remember Jaws? Dean reeled him in on a hand line in 1959. The Great White hunter has become something of a legend in his native Australia, and no one will ever catch a bigger Great White than his 2,664-pound giant, because the sharks have become a protected species. Alf Dean was the world's expert – of the seven largest of these maneaters ever caught on rod and reel, he bagged six, capturing three international records. Each weighed more than a ton. Then the Australian angler got his wish, landing the greatest of the great whites – his shark outweighs the next biggest fish in the world record book by more than 700 pounds. Chapter 3 Tom Healey probably has some words he'd like to say to Roger Hellen. Less than a year after setting a world record for Brown Trout on the Manistee River in Michigan, his fame and glory has fallen. Hellen caught a brownie in Wisconsin that tied him. The pair now share the record. Healey says, "I was a retired old guy looking for some peace and quiet on the river. And then all hell broke loose." As for Hellen, he not only tied a record but he won more than $10,000 in the process. Chapter 4. Albert McReynolds knows the sea. He grew up helping his grandfather, a boat captain, on his boat in Atlantic City, swabbing decks and mending nets and baiting traps - doing whatever it took to be allowed aboard. Back on land he worked in a nightclub and became friendly with Frank and Sammy, as in Sinatra and Davis, Jr. They tried to talk him out of returning to the water, but he eventually became a captain himself and ran his own boat. When he was 36 he was fishing from a jetty in the city – in the middle of a Nor'easter – and landed the biggest striped bass the world has ever known. And then everything fell apart. McReynolds believes the fish was cursed. He was accused of lying and cheating and faced death threats. A fellow angler even pulled a gun on him, he lost friends and money, and the fish was eventually stolen. "Over a F#$#(#(n' fish," he says. "I didn't catch the devil that night, the devil caught me." Chapter 5 It sounds like something out of bike racing or baseball: fish on steroids. Well, not quite, but artificially enhanced. When Saskatchewan angler Sean Konrad caught a 48-pound rainbow trout in a Canada Lake in September 09, he reeled in not only a world record but a big controversy. The rainbow trout at Lake Diefenbaker are stocked – with a farm-born genetically engineered species bred for size. Many fishermen say that should disqualify the fish. Konrad, however, knew this would happen. His twin brother, Adam, held the previous record, caught in the same place two years earlier. Chapter 6 When fishing for piranha, it's a good idea not to fall in. Just ask Russell Jensen of the Bronx, who landed an 8 and half pound black piranha in the Amazon one day in 2009. Not only does he hold the world record for black piranha but also for the largest catfish ever caught on rod and reel. He likes them ugly and dangerous. Chapter 7 On Highway 117 in Jacksonville, Georgia, is an historic marker. It reads: "Approximately two miles from this spot, on June 2, 1932, George W. Perry, a 19-year-old farm boy, caught what was to become America's most famous fish." The 22 pound largemouth bass broke the previous record by more than 2 pounds and has remained king for more than 70 years. It's the record everyone wants to beat. In 2009, Manubu Karita came close, landing a largemouth of exactly the same size in Lake Biwa, Shiga, Japan. Chapter 8 Florida fishing guide Bucky Dennis has a bit of the Ahab in him. The 39-year-old caught a world-record-holding hammerhead shark off Tampa Bay in 2006, but he wanted more. He's always been competitive. As a kid, he wrestled. When he was older he raced dirtbikes in amateur motocross. As an adult he won snook tournaments. And he was determined to land another world beater. He got his wish in 2009, hauling in a 1060-pound hammerhead off the coast of his home state. ESPN showed up to take pictures and he got a slap on the back or two, but the catch was also extremely controversial. Many believed a shark that large – at that time of year – was likely to be pregnant, and no one wants little dead hammerheads. Dennis knew all this but decided to kill the shark so people would believe him – and in so doing he set off a firestorm of catch-and-release vs. blood sport arguments. Chapter 9 The record for the muskellunge has been one of the most hotly contested in all of fishing. Controversies have swirled. Scientists have tried to use mathematics to estimate the weight of muskies in old photos. Pinkerton Detectives have been hired to investigate. Books on conspiracies have been written. But for now Cal Johnson's 67.8 pound giant, caught just after a storm on Lac Court O'Reilles, Wisconsin, in 1949 reigns supreme. Chapter 10 Mike Livingston had been on the hunt for "super cows" – tuna weighing more than 300 pounds – for days. He didn't have many more before he had to leave Mexico and return to his home in Sunland, CA. And then it hit, the supercow of supercows – a 405.2-pound monster. Livingston spent more than two hours hauling it in. When the fish came in to port a massive crowd gathered to see it, and when it landed on the scales "it was like the SuperBowl." Chapter 11 When Townsend Miller was a small boy, he hooked a gar while fishing in Texas. The prehistoric-looking fish launched itself at him and hit him in the belly. Rather than being repelled, as so many fishermen are by the scaly, long nosed, razor-toothed monsters, Miller was fascinated. That day began a lifelong love of angling for gar. A navigator on bombers during World War II, Miller was something of a renaissance man. He was a stockbroker. Then he moved onto writing, championing many of the early Texas greats of country music. His love of music was honest – he was inducted into the Western Swing Hall of Fame himself. For years he wrote columns for the Austin-American Statesman. He excelled as a hunter, was an avid baseball fan, and was passionate about gar fishing at a time when the rest of the world considered the ugly fish trash. Miller hooked some big ones, including a 7 foot 6, 165 pound alligator gar. But it was in July of 1954 that he reeled in a world beater – a 50 pound, 5 oz. longnose, the likes of which the world has never seen since. Chapter 12 Mabry Harper stares out of the black and white photo with the hint of a smile on his face, holding his world-record walleye before him, arms bent at the elbow, hands about shoulder length apart, gripping the tail and the gills. When he pulled the twenty-five pound fish out of a Tennessee Lake in August of 1960 he probably had no idea the controversies it would create. Over the next fifty years, magazines, wildlife agencies, and lots of jealous anglers would debate whether it was even possible to land a 25 pound walleye. Few of these members of the perch family seem to get near 20 pounds, especially in August, when they're swimming hard and fit, and the one in the photo just doesn't look girthy enough to pack that kind of weight. But IGFA says the record stands.