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FESTUS, Mo. – A new world record was set last week when a Missouri man caught a massive 97-pound bighead carp from the Mississippi River.

George Chance of Festus beat the current bighead carp pole-and-line world record of 90 pounds on March 19 while bank fishing for catfish, the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) confirmed.

He also set a new state record for his monster catch. The previous pole-and-line state record was an 80-pound fish caught from the Lake of the Ozarks in 2004, the MDC said.

Chance said he caught the fish using a bottom-bouncing crankbait.

“You kind of know what a fish is once you hook into it based on how it fights,” he said. “It was moving pretty slow, and I originally thought it could be a flathead.”

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After a struggle that lasted for about 20 minutes, Chance managed to haul the fish up onto the shore.

“The more it fought, I saw it’s tail and knew it was some type of carp,” he recalled. “I was able to hook him with a hay hook in order to get him out of the water. It looked to be 50 or 60 pounds at least.”

After weighing the giant fish at a nearby recycling center, Chance contacted his local conservation agent upon seeing the scale measurement.

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“They told me it was a state record, and I said, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me!’”, he laughed. “Then later they said, ‘It’s not just a state record, it’s a world record!’ and I said, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me!’”

Chance’s catch is the third state record fish recorded for 2024. Chad Williams of Olathe, Kansas, snagged a 164-pound, 13-ounce state- and world-record paddlefish at Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri two days prior.

Chance said he chopped up his fish and put it in his garden.

“I’m going to eat it in the form of tomatoes and cucumbers,” he added.

The carp was full of eggs and would have likely spawned this spring, according to Chance.

Bighead carp, an invasive fish from Asia, can be removed from Missouri waters by harvesting them, as encouraged by the MDC.

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