Unmatched bighead carp from the Humboldt Park lagoon: Its broader context and meaning; plus Stray Cast

The story and broader meaning of Jarrett Knize catching a 72-pound-plus bighead carp from the Humboldt Park lagoon; plus the Stray Cast.

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Jarrett Knize wheeling his Illinois-record bighead carp across North Avenue (looking west) toward home. Credit: Daisy Schultz

Jarrett Knize wheeling his bighead carp across North Avenue (looking west) toward home.

Daisy Schultz

Jarrett Knize had an odd hope after catching a bighead carp of 72 pounds, 9 ounces — heavier than the Illinois record — from the Humboldt Park lagoon.

‘‘I just hope they don’t drain the lagoon or anything drastic,’’ he said.

I don’t think it will come to that, but the Illinois Department of Natural Resources has protocols when invasive carp, such as bigheads, are caught in unusual places.

Let’s start at the beginning:

With his girlfriend out of town, Knize went bass fishing Saturday afternoon. That turned into a journey into night.

‘‘The [largemouth bass] I caught 45 minutes earlier was deeper than I normally catch them,’’ said Knize, who often fishes Humboldt. ‘‘If I hadn’t caught that one, I would not have made the cast that caught this fish.’’

He was fishing a 13 Fishing Magic Man, a lipless crankbait, on 25-pound Seaguar Abrazx line when he latched into the bighead. The heavy line was so he could muscle his crankbait out of trouble.

He saw neighbor Holden Head on the other side, and they circled to meet. Then the fish bulled toward a dangerous corner.

‘‘I told my neighbor, ‘I’ve got to put the screws to her a little bit because we’re toast if she goes that way,’ ’’ Knize said. ‘‘It was a major relief when she turned back north.’’

The bighead was close to being landed after a half-hour, but Knize didn’t have a net with him. He gave keys to Head, who ran to Knize’s place for a big salmon net.

‘‘At some point on shore, I determined that we had to weigh it,’’ Knize said. ‘‘It was an invasive; I couldn’t put it back.’’

Jarrett Knize with his big bighead carp at Humboldt Park lagoon. Provided photo

Jarrett Knize with his big bighead carp at Humboldt Park lagoon.


Head ran back for a shopping cart Knize had found this fall, and Knize wheeled the cart with the curled carp across North Avenue on his way home.

Then Knize called Fish Tech in Morton Grove, but there was no certified scale. Then it was on to Montrose Harbor, where Cory Gecht kept Park Bait open late for them. The bighead, 52 inches long with a girth of 34 1/2 inches, was too big to weigh on their certified scale. On a bigger scale, it weighed 74 pounds.

Next it was to Bridgeport, where Tom Palmisano opened Henry’s Sports and Bait. It weighed 72-9 on their biggest certified scale. Randy Koronkiewicz and Palmisano witnessed the weighing.

Jack Bailey holds the Illinois record for bighead carp of 69 pounds, caught May 4, 2010, from the Kaskaskia River below the Carlyle Dam.

Biologist Frank Jakubicek certified the weight and the bighead carp Monday at Henry’s. Paperwork will go to the IDNR, and it will be a state record if chief of fisheries Mike McClelland signs off.

Jarrett Knize after the weight of his bighead carp was certified at Henry’s Sports and Bait. Credit: Dale Bowman

Jarrett Knize after the weight of his bighead carp was certified at Henry’s Sports and Bait.

Dale Bowman

Jakubicek said part of the protocol, after an invasive carp is found in an unusual place, is that commercial fishermen are brought in to see whether there are others. The head will be sent to Southern Illinois University, where otolith microchemistry will determine things such as its origins.

‘‘There has been a history of these fish popping up in some urban lagoons where catfish were stocked historically,’’ messaged assistant chief of fisheries Kevin Irons, who previously was the manager of Illinois’ Aquatic Nuisance Species program. ‘‘Unfortunately, 20-ish years ago, it was apparent that bigheads were mixed with catfish and stocked from an out-of-state fish hauler for some fishing programs. The ones we find are quite old, generally.

‘‘It is very important to report such catches. One fish does little, [but] it is important to remove so they do not spread. They won’t reproduce in a pond, but [it] could be tragic if released into waters of the Great Lakes, circumventing many efforts to prevent spread.’’

Irons recommended transportzero.org as the resource for aquatic invasives.

In memory

Ed Mikos, 86, of Skokie died last week. Mr. Mikos was an early members of Salmon Unlimited and a former board member. His son, Andy, contributes fishing reports. In 2010, Mr. Mikos shared in his son’s Fish of the Week.

Memorial contributions may be made to a charity of your choice.

Illinois hunting

Deer harvest by bowhunters in Illinois dropped by 6,187 from October 2020. Click here for more detail on the October harvest.

Stray cast

The Bulls and Bears remind me of catching walleye while fishing for white bass on the Wolf River.

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