There are a few memories that stand the test of time and I can remember very clearly. Due to a traumatic brain injury that occurred while deployed to Iraq during my time in the Marines my memory is not the greatest however there are moments that are so impactful they are solidified for the rest of my life.
This is one of those memories….
Monday October 16th. While driving around with Edwin I remembered of being told by my neighbor of a lake that contained a “large orange fish” and decided that we should make the drive to have a walk around. At this time I have walked around it at least a dozen times and have yet to see anything other than turtles and some small bass. After a lap or two around the lake Edwin spots something in the large weed beds which turns out to be one of the biggest koi I have ever seen. The koi had his shoulders pushed up through the weeds and you could make out that it was quite large. We purposefully spooked it so we could get a better look. In the crystal clear water it has a deep, bright, glistening orange color like I’ve never see. After seeing the entire fish we estimated that it was around the low 20’s in weight.
We follow the orange koi around to see where it likes to hangout and during this we see something else, something even more exciting. A bright gold koi has his back out of the water just like the orange one before. The adrenaline starts to get flowing as we spook this golden koi. The golden koi is quite a bit larger than the orange ones and we estimated it to be a high 20 or scraper 30! I spent the rest of the day and night knowing that I have to catch these koi. We don’t get many chances for “target” fish here in the US and these just became mine.
Tuesday October 17th. Like any other Tuesday I get to work and can’t get the koi off my mind. One of the perks of the job is leaving to go fishing on random days. The weather was beautiful so Edwin and I skip out and head to see the koi. We decide that with the way they are acting stalking would be the best option. Using my 9ft 2.75tc Scope rod I tie on a long hair rig with Nash Combi link, a size 6 Nash Twister, Yellow Korda kicker, and a 15mm Nash Citruz Cultured hookbait. Edwin readies his rig and we agree that we will walk in opposite direction around the lake and depending on which fish you see first that person gets to try for it. After spotting the fish we spend the next few hours going back and forth between them trying to get one to take the bait. They both had their backs out of the water feeding in the heavy weed mats. We were dropping our baits just below the surface into small holes in the weeds and waiting.
The photo above is only a few minutes before absolute chaos erupts! As the golden koi inches towards my rig my heart is pounding and my body is shaking. I watch as the line quickly slides into the gap in the weeds. I raise the rod and connect into the fish. I have never been more thrilled to set the hook than I was at that moment and even more so that it was all captured on film! The fish charged to the bottom off the weeds and stormed off into the lake. I knew I was in trouble so I had to wade out waist deep in the silty weeds to free the line all the while I can feel the power of the koi through the line in my hands. I realized our initial guess on his size was off when he swam only a few short feet in front of me. This was an exceptionally large koi. After a very nerve-racking battle it ends with the koi safely in the net. I stood there for a few minutes in disbelief of what just happened. After calming down we get the scales readied and zeroed. That moment of clarity comes when Edwin reads off….36 pounds, mere ounces off from my PB. In this few moments with the fish safely in the retention sling we get call David and Jake to come witness as well as my wife and kids. Enough of the story as the video explains the rest! On with the photos!! At the time of writing this we cannot think of a larger koi being caught in the United States.
The second part of this story is Edwin’s as he, later the same day, captured the orange koi!