Chase Stokes was out fishing with his dad when he felt a familiar tug on his rod. But the power in this pull was different. As he struggled to reel in his monster catch he knew he was on to something big. However, little did he know his giant fish would smash a record.
Fishing is a big deal in Vermont. After all, the state’s many streams and creeks provide the perfect opportunity for anglers to cast off. As a result, the activity – alongside agriculture, hunting and forestry – rakes in $375 million for the local economy.
One of the major thrills for aspiring anglers is catching the biggest fish they can. Consequently, in recent years, fishermen and women have continued to smash previous Vermont state records when it comes to catch sizes.
Some of the most sought-after catches are carp. In 1653 English writer Izaak Walton described the mighty fish as “the queen of rivers.” And it’s not hard to see why. The biggest carp ever reeled in weighed a massive 108 pounds when it was caught in October 2017.
Until summer 2017 the state carp record in Vermont stood at a more modest – though still impressive – 33 pounds. The fish that holds the record also measured 35 inches in length. And it no doubt provided junior fisherman Chase Stokes something to aim for.
Stokes first started fishing when he was just 18 months old. It was his mom and dad who introduced him to the sport. And, with their guidance, by the time Stokes was 11 he was already an accomplished angler.
To help him hone his craft, Stokes spends as much time as possible on the water. “I go fishing any time I can,” he revealed to the Rutland Herald in August 2017. And luckily for him, he lives right on the doorstep of Vermont’s famous Otter Creek.
There, over the years, Stokes has reeled in fish of all shapes and sizes. Some of the species he’s hooked include pike, catfish and of course the much-coveted carp. Stokes was presumably proud of himself when he once managed to net a 20-pound example.
However, little did Stokes know that he would go on to dwarf this in April 2017. It was then that the young boy was out fishing on Otter Creek with his dad John. But what started out as a pretty ordinary day ended with a record-breaking catch.
In fact, Stokes and his father hadn’t set out to break any records that spring day. “We were fishing for anything that might bite,” Stokes revealed. However, when something did take a nibble, the youngster could tell that, whatever it was, it was massive.
Recalling the incident, Stokes revealed, “After a few big bites, this huge fish almost took my pole right off the stick.” So, with excitement presumably washing over him, the angler grabbed onto his rod and held on for dear life.
As he felt the power of the fish, Stokes realized he was on to something very big indeed. However, reeling his prey in would not be easy. But the boy wasn’t going to give up on what might be his greatest catch to date.
Explaining his struggle, Stokes said, “It just started to take drag almost to the other side of the river. I was just about tired out and got it to shore almost and it took right back off. It did that about three times. I knew it was going to be the biggest carp I ever caught.”
Eventually, Stokes got the fish under control. Then, with his dad in charge of the net, the youngster was finally able to bring his catch to the riverbank. It was then that he got his first of glimpse of the mammoth carp.
Describing the moment he first set eyes on the fantastic fish, Stokes said, “I was so happy, I just yelled out. I thought it must be a state record.” As a result, he took the carp to a bait and tackle shop in New York to have it weighed.
It was there that Stokes first learned the carp weighed a giant 33.25 pounds and measured 40 inches in length. Consequently, in July 2017, the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department confirmed that Stoke’s fish had indeed broken the state record.
Needless to say, Stokes was over the moon with his achievement. And he’s since vowed to have his colossal carp mounted so that he can admire it forever. Moreover, there’s a good chance he’ll add to his record-breaking haul as the years go by.
That’s because the kid really does seem to be as keen as mustard. Just ask Shawn Good, a biologist with the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department who runs the state’s Master Angler Program. The initiative encourages anglers to enter “trophy fish” for recognition. And according to Good, Stokes has submitted more fish than anyone else.
“Since 2010, when we first introduced the program, we have accepted and approved 4,887 trophy fish entries,” Good revealed. “Chase Stokes has 439 of those, almost 10 percent. Chase is our most prolific participant in the Master Angler Program. Far and away, he has entered more trophy-sized fish than any other angler, adult or kid, in the seven years of the program.”
But while Good has Stokes down as a “fishing maniac” the youngster has no plans to turn professional. For now at least, he’s happy to keep angling as a hobby and pursue a career in something else. “I would probably want to become a game warden, because you get to be outdoors all of the time,” he explained.