- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 4, 2013

It was already a special day for Caleb Newton and Phil Wilcox — the two friends enjoying a bass-fishing bachelor party on the Potomac River. But when the men spotted a long shadow swimming among the reeds, they knew things were only going to get more interesting.

Gliding among the grass was a northern snakehead, a gruesome animal known as a “Frankenfish” by some. And it was big. But it wasn’t until they wrestled it into the boat that they realized it might be the biggest anyone has ever caught with a hook and line.

“I knew it was a good fish, but I didn’t know how good,” Mr. Newton, 27, said Tuesday.

The two men have been fishing partners for years, and they know the Potomac River and its tributaries like the back of their hands. On Saturday, they joined friends and family for the Big Bass Bachelor Fishing Tournament in honor of Mr. Wilcox’s upcoming wedding.

“We pulled up to the spot, put the trolling motor down on the boat, and I saw the fish in the water,” Mr. Wilcox said. “It was absolutely huge.”

Caleb Newton, who lives in Spotsylvania County, Va., holds the 17 pound, 6 ounce northern snakehead he caught Saturday in Aquia Creek in Virginia. He has filed the paperwork to have the fish registered as a world-record catch.
(The Free Lance-Star via Associated Press)
Caleb Newton, who lives in Spotsylvania County, Va., holds the 17 pound, ... more >

Mr. Newton said he “could just tell by the reaction and tone of his voice,” that his buddy had spotted a keeper.

After a few attempts at luring the fish to bite, the animal finally latched on and took off.

“It went crazy, the water got to boiling, the grass was coming up, so I let the line go on its own,” Mr. Newton said. “With this fish you had to let him play his game.”

After about two minutes, the fish was reeled in close enough to the boat for Mr. Wilcox to scoop the beast out of the water.

Weighing in at 17 pounds, 6 ounces, the fish that Mr. Newton hauled in could be declared the largest snakehead caught on hook and line in the world, a title currently held by a fisherman in Japan for a snakehead only 2 ounces lighter.

News of the haul was first reported by the Fredericksburg, Va., Free Lance-Star.

Mr. Newton must send in pictures of the fish from various angles, along with photos of the rod and reel used, to the International Game Fish Association. The Dania Beach, Fla.-based organization handles records for hook-and-line-only catches.

He also has to submit the tackle he used, as well as verification of the scale that was used to weigh the fish.

“Thank God he doesn’t have to send the fish,” said Jack Vitek, the world record coordinator with the International Game Fish Association.

Mr. Newton must also fill out an application, asking what he was using to catch the fish and the location.

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