A 17-year-old high school student in Wythe County, Virginia may have landed the largest grass carp in America last month from Rural Retreat Lake. Unfortunately, it is a potential record that will never be documented, as Harley Mitchell lacked a scale to weigh the fish on and decided to release the carp shortly after catching it. According to the Wythe County Department of Public Information, Mitchell was fishing with his friends in the 90-acre lake when he hooked a 4.5-foot grass carp. Grass carp are strong fighters and Mitchell said it took a good 25 minutes before he could bring the massive fish on board his small boat.
“We measured it from the tip of the snout to the fork in the tail,” the angler said, indicating that the fish was an eye-opening 52.5 inches in length.
Length alone is a poor way to gauge this fish against other record carp, but if Mitchell’s measurements are accurate, that would mean that his carp is the longest ever caught in the United States. According to LandBigFish.com, the largest grass carp caught in the country was a 71-pound, 11.04-ounce fish caught by William R. Taucher from Warden Lake in West Virginia. That fish only measured 50.75 inches long. The International Game Fish Association lists the world record as a 87-pound, 10-ounce fish caught by Stoian Illiev in Bulgaria.
Grass carp are not native to Wythe County, or anywhere in the United States for that matter. The fish is originally from Eastern Asia and was introduced by wildlife officials for their ability to control undesirable vegetation. Unlike their more notorious Asian carp counterparts, grass carp require very specific breeding conditions and are vegetarian. They can also eat up to three times their body eight each day, making them very efficient in clearing weeds.
“Mr. Mitchell’s catch over the weekend serves as a perfect reminder as to why so many people choose to vacation at Wythe County’s Rural Retreat Lake & Campground,” stated Jeremy T.K. Farley, Wythe County’s Tourism Director.
Image courtesy Wythe County Department of Public Information