Dennis Russian of New Alexandria with his 54 pound grass carp from Horseshoe Pond, off Presque Isle Bay on Lake Erie.
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Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission officials are grappling with whether the colossal carp Dennis Russian of New Alexander, Pa., shot with a bow and arrow Tuesday in Lake Erie should be considered for a state record.
Size isn't the problem. The 49-inch long, 54-pound fish beats the existing record, set in 1962, by two pounds. And bow fishing for carp is legal in Erie.
At issue is the species, since Russian's fish was a grass carp or white amur carp, which has never been documented in Lake Erie before, according to fish commission biologist Chuck Murray.
"Grass carp are exotics. It probably escaped from a golf course pond or somebody's home lake. Interestingly, this guy shot two," Murray said.
Just before he killed the 54-pounder with a compound bow in Horseshoe Pond off Presque Isle Bay, Russian shot a 48-pound grass carp near the same five feet of water.
Both fish probably weighed more, Murray said, since it was hours before Russian got them to a certified scale at Poor Richard's Bait and Tackle. "The bigger one was probably closer to 60 pounds," Murray said. The girth was 29 inches.
As huge as that is, it is average by grass carp standards, since the fast-growing species can reach 100 pounds. And they're vegetarians, which explains the name, grass carp. Pennsylvanians need special permits to raise them in captivity.
"We only permit them from certified vendors, who guarantee they're rendered sterile," Murray said.
Once Russian submits his paperwork to the Fish and Boat Commission, the agency will decide whether his fish should supplant the current record, which was a 52-pound common carp out of the Jun-iata River.
Russian, 59, said he has bow-fished for carp since he was 12. "It wasn't all that attractive, but it was a heck of a strong fish," he said of his catch. "The bow is hooked to 400 pound test string and the fish was so strong, the line almost cut my hand.
"Here, we're all oriented to bass and trout, and carp get a bad rap, but in Europe, they're a delicacy," said Russian, who fed his fish to the raccoons near his deer farm.