Kevin Wasilewski’s big carp – a fish well over 32 pounds would have been a state record if it had been weighed on a certified scale.

The founder of Rhode Island Carp Anglers, Wasilewski is a carp fanatic in the European tradition. Their traditions include naming unusually large fish that get caught repeatedly. Carp anglers use special nets and mats to handle the fish before releasing them. Keeping the carp alive and unharmed is paramount.

Wasilewski had been chumming his spot, a tributary pond off the Pawtuxet River, for a week. The first time he fished it, he remembered, “It was incredible. I got five carp. The largest was 24 pounds and the rest were in the 20s.”

Wasilewski carries two scales, a digital model and a standard spring-loaded scale.

“‘Oh my God,’ I thought. ‘I’m sitting on a time bomb for giant carp here.’ Then it just died. Nothing happened. I fished another half a dozen times. … Nothing.” Wasilewski moved to another spot and kept chumming. He was there every day after leaving his office.

“That Friday,” he said, “I decided to throw out a couple of rods just for fun, and all of a sudden, bang. One of my lines starts blasting out. Then, bang, bang, I lost two fish. They were in the 20s. I got them close enough to see. I threw the lines out again and got a screaming hit. I set the hook … I probably fought him for 15 or 20 minutes before I got a look at him. You know how carp have that small mouth? Well when he rolled over, I saw his mouth and it was big enough to suck in a baseball.”

Wasilewski, still in his office clothes, jumped into the pond to continue the fight. “I thought I had him, and he just blasted out again,” he said. Wasilewski finally subdued the carp.

With the fish in the net, it weighed 32-plus pounds on the digital scale, 34 pounds on the other. The state record is 31 pounds.

“I wrestled with what to do. He was substantially bigger than anything I have ever caught, (but) I didn’t have a container to carry him” to a certified scale.

Wasilewski made his decision. He carried the fish back into the water.

“The life of the fish,” he said, “is worth a lot more than 15 minutes of ego boosting.”

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