A 14-year-old Colorado resident became the newest member of state’s angling elite after landing a 51-pound grass carp while fishing at Prospect Park Lake on June 4. The mammoth carp, caught by Cody Moreland, set a new species state record and ranks as the heaviest fish ever caught in Colorado.
Moreland, who regularly fishes the small Jefferson County lake, caught the record-setting fish using a Rapala Dives-To lure, 14-pound line and a Zebco rod and reel. Moreland says he was initially targeting bass but changed tactics after seeing large carp within casting distance of his lure.
“When I got to the lake, I could see carp ‘tailing’ quite a ways out from the shore,” said Moreland. “I knew they would probably hit the Rapala because I’ve caught smaller carp using that same technique before.”
At approximately 3 p.m., Moreland cast his line toward the feeding carp and started retrieving the minnow-like imitation. Within seconds, the monster fish grabbed the lure and then charged in the opposite direction, peeling monofilament line from the Zebco reel.
“This was my first cast of the day but I could tell right away that this was a huge fish,” said Moreland. “I had to make sure my drag was set just right to keep from losing it.”
After 25 minutes of give-and-take, Moreland landed the enormous fish in front of wide-eyed spectators who had gathered to watch the nearly half-hour-long battle. Moreland’s grandfather also witnessed his grandson’s stunning achievement.
“Everyone was in awe when I finally landed the fish,” said Moreland. “Even my grandfather was shocked. He just kept saying, ‘Wow, that is the biggest fish I’ve ever seen.'”
Moreland’s carp measured 42 inches in length, 28 inches in girth and weighed exactly 51 pounds–nearly 7 pounds heavier than the previous 44.8-pound record, caught in 2006 at a private Lake in Larimer County.
In addition to breaking the state record for grass carp, Moreland’s catch is the heaviest fish ever recorded in Colorado, surpassing a 50.35-pound lake trout caught by Donald Walker at Blue Mesa Reservoir in 2007.
“This carp is the heaviest fish that we have ever entered into our record books,” said Paul Winkle, Colorado Division of Wildlife fisheries biologist. “Grass carp can grow to enormous sizes, so it’s not surprising that this species has now taken the top spot in this category.”
Widely considered a “rough fish” by most anglers, carp are not members of Colorado’s sport-fish group. However, due to their hard-fighting nature and tendency to grow to enormous sizes in neighborhood lakes and ponds, carp deserve a spot in Colorado’s record books.
“Grass carp and the more plentiful common carp provide tremendous angling opportunities for Front Range and metro area anglers,” said Mark Cousins, DOW hunter education coordinator. “Anglers who have discovered the thrill of carp fishing have coined carp the fresh-water bonefish because of the tremendous battle they pose on a fly rod or light spinning gear.”
The DOW stocks grass carp selectively in small lakes and ponds across eastern Colorado, using the herbivorous fish as a biological control to manage overabundant aquatic weeds and vegetation. The grass carp are sterilized in hatcheries before stocking, so they won’t reproduce. According to stocking records, the DOW planted grass carp in Prospect Lake Park in 1988, 1992 and 1993.
Moreland, who has aspirations of becoming a professional angler someday, hopes this is just the first of many record-breaking fish and angling accolades.
“I started fishing when I was 3 or 4 years old and have been hooked ever since,” said Moreland. “It’s my favorite thing to do and I hope to become a professional fisherman someday. My goal is to keep improving my fishing skills.”
The DOW added the record carp to the Colorado State Fishing Records and issued Moreland a Master Angler award certificate and patch, further recognizing his outstanding achievement.
“We want to congratulate Cody Moreland for his exceptional fish,” said Winkle. “It’s always exciting when a record is broken and we get to enter a new name into the record books. I think it’s even more rewarding when a youth breaks the record and can share the moment with their family.”
The DOW tracks fish records by weight in 43 different species categories. Potential record holders must have a valid Colorado fishing license or be under the age of 16. The fish in question must be weighed on a state-certified scale, and a weight receipt must be signed by a person who witnessed the weighing. The fish, before being frozen, gutted or altered in any way, must be examined and identified by a DOW biologist or wildlife manager before an application is submitted.
To view Colorado’s Fishing Records or see photos of Cody Moreland and his state-record grass carp, visit the DOW website at: http://wildlife.state.co.us/Fishing/AwardsRecords/
source: Colorado Division of Wildlife