Pa. angler reels in the new record-breaking carp W.Va.
A Pennsylvania man has broken the record for the longest carp in West Virginia, and he’s now searching for a record holder in his home state.
Ayden Minick, 19, of Mount Pleasant, Westmoreland County, landed a 41.2-inch common carp on May 7 while fishing on Lake Summersville in Nicholas County, West Virginia.
The fish, one of six carp he caught that day, broke the previous record of 41 inches which has stood since 1988. It was caught by Charles Cook at Stonecoal Lake. West Virginia has two size records for carp, the other being weight. Minick’s fish topped the scales at 45.2 pounds, just under two pounds less than the current record of 47 pounds caught in 1998 by Gary Johnson in Preston County.
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The adventure was part of an annual carp trip that Minick has taken with his friends for the past three years. “It’s just a time to come together and hang out,” he said in a phone interview.
The day started when he caught a 19lb at 7:30 a.m., a little later he caught a 26lb carp, a few hours later he caught another 19lb fish, then at noon the big one hit his bait.
He said the trophy fish took his line very slowly and kept going where he wanted to go. “We knew he was big,” Minick said.
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“I tried to get her in, but she wouldn’t come to the surface. Occasionally there was a big ripple on top of the water from her. After about 10 minutes he was able to spot the lunker and said, “Holy smokes, that’s the biggest I’ve ever seen.”
It took around 15 minutes to hand the trophy over to his friend, Domenic Firestone, to win the prized prize. “We couldn’t believe how big it was.” Minick said he once caught a 40-pound fish on the Youghiogheny River in Pennsylvania and could easily see that fish was much heavier.
He knows the 1962 Pennsylvania record for common carp at 52 pounds from the Juniata River, and he didn’t expect his catch to be a West Virginia record. “I almost put it away after taking pictures,” he said of his release. His friend who organizes the meeting, Derek Williams, told him not to release the fish yet because it was probably a Mountain State record.
They had a restraint sling to keep the fish alive and healthy until a state marine biologist arrived and documented the fish. When the monster-sized fish was placed on the measuring board, the biologist told him, “Well, we have a new state record for length.”
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Minick said it was exciting to catch the record with his friends who were there. He said they kept fishing, and he personally ended up with six carp together weighing around 160 pounds. The fish lay eggs and are full of eggs. He said fish can lose several pounds overnight when they lose their eggs.
His record female fish may have lost weight from the time it was caught until it was documented several hours later. “It was still a big fish,” he said of it, narrowly missing the weight record. He thanked the biologist for coming to the lake on his day off to record the catch. “They were all very nice,” he said of the officials who worked with him.
West Virginia Governor Jim Justice congratulated him on Facebook for breaking the record, saying, “Our lakes and streams continue to produce record catches!”
Minnick was fishing with an artificial corn bait on a hair rig at the bottom of the water. “It’s like sport fishing,” he says of targeting carp. “This is very fun.”
The trophy fish is back in the lake for someone else to enjoy. “They’re just fun to catch,” he said of the carp release. “It’s really an aggressive fish; they really fight,” he explained of the challenge of bringing the heavy species ashore.
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Although he is happy to be in the West Virginia record books, he is now interested in the Pennsylvania record.
“This is my next challenge. To try to catch the state record for here. …That’s the good thing about carp fishing; you never really know their size.
There are several Pennsylvania waterways known for carp fishing. He said the Pymatuning tank has the numbers, but not the size. The Monongahela and Yough rivers have heavy carp as well as Près Isle in Erie. “I was planning on going to Raystown (Lake). I heard there were some good ones too. I just didn’t have time to drive that way.
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Reflecting on West Virginia’s record, he concluded, “It’s a good thing. Good to know I have it. I wasn’t supposed to do this. It shocked me at first. It’s an amazing thing to have,” he said hoping it would increase the popularity of carp fishing.
“He was a fun fish. I’ll never forget it, that’s for sure,” he said of recording a record with several friends watching him record it.
He enjoys fishing in Pennsylvania but plans to fish again in West Virginia. “I will definitely go back,” he said. It’s a good lake. There are probably bigger ones in there too.
Brian Whipkey is the outdoor columnist for USA TODAY Network sites in Pennsylvania. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and sign up for our weekly Go Outdoors PA newsletter via email on your website homepage under your login name. Follow him on social media @whipkeyoutdoors.