SHEFFIELD -- The fish was so big that it wouldn't fit through the 8-inch hole drilled into the ice in the Housatonic River.
A period of pushing, pulling and maneuvering ensued. Finally, the big carp relaxed enough so that it could be lifted through the ice.
"The battle lasted about half an hour," said Paul Tawczynski of Great Barrington, who owns Charter the Berkshires, a fishing guide company. "I knew it was a potential giant fish."
It might also be a world record fish.
Andrew Plumridge, of Sharon, landed a 35 3/4 inch, 32 pound, 2 ounce common carp on the Housatonic Jan. 31 that could set an ice fishing world record in the catch-and-release category -- pending verification from the Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame in Hayward, Wis. That organization has been the recognized qualifier of freshwater sportfishing records since 1974.
"It takes about two to four weeks to verify the application," said Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame business manager Kathy Polich. "If everything checks out, he will have a world record."
The world record for largest common carp caught in non-ice fishing is 100 pounds, 8 ounces, according to the International Game Fish Association. The state record of 46 pounds, 5 ounces, was set in 2012 at Lake Quinsigamond in Shrewsbury, according to the state Department of Fisheries and Wildlife.
The largest common carp caught in the all-tackle (any means) category is 43 inches, according to the Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame. The national record for largest carp caught in the kept category-- 57 pounds, 13 ounces -- was landed in Maryland in 1983. The kept category is for catch-and-kill.
Fish in the kept category are judged by weight while those in the catch-and-release division are judged on length.
There is no recognized world record in the common carp catch-and-release category because it is a relatively new division that is replacing catch-and-kill.
"We're slowly opening new categories for catch-and-release," Polich said. "It's pretty full, but it happens that in ice fishing the category for common carp has not been filled."
Tawczynski, who led the fishing tour that Plumridge participated in, released the large carp after it had been brought to a certified weighing station at Taft Farms in Great Barrington. He declined to say where on the river in Sheffield the fish was actually caught.
Plumridge, a 41-year-old auditor for State Bank in Boston, was on his second-ever fishing trip. His first trip, also ice fishing, took place in the Berkshires last year. The huge carp was the second fish he has ever caught.
"I haven't grown up fishing," said Plumridge, who is originally from the San Francisco area. "A friend invited me to go fishing with Paul last year. I caught a pickerel, probably a couple of pounds. I had a good time."
Plumridge's four-member fishing group had caught only three fish Friday before landing the carp. It took six hours between catches before they caught the huge fish.
"My first reaction was I can't believe that fish made it through that hole," Plumridge said. "He (Tawczynski) must have squeezed the fish to get it through."
Tawczynski said the fish put up such a fight that he "really scraped up the back of my hand" trying to pull it out of the water.
"We had that fish to the hole probably 15 times," Tawczynski said. "Every time we got close enough to touch it made a run of about 10 to 15 yards. Finally, it got tired and laid down by the hole where I could pull it up. There was absolute elation from everyone on the ice."
Tawczynski said the carp was the biggest fish he has ever pulled out of the ice during his 13 years as a fishing guide.
"Carp are extremely plentiful," in the Berkshires, Tawczynski said. "They average between 6 and 12 pounds. This is just an extraordinarily large fish for this area."
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