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Bighead Carp

21 Pound Bighead carp


School of Bighead Carp

This is a school of bighead carp feeding in the current behind a barge on the Tennessee River.

Ronnie Garrison
While practicing for the Southern Regional BASS Federation tournament on the Tennessee River, I went behind a barge anchored at a crane. There was a slight current running behind the barge and I caught a couple of hybrids off the front end of it.

Behind it, the base of a crane formed a barrier out to the barge, and where the current eddied around it and under the barge I saw something in the water. When I got close enough I could see big fish moving around and their white mouths were opening and closing, like they were feeding on something.

I had never seen fish that looked like these - I thought they were big cats feeding on shad moving in the current. I got real close and could see the big mouths working as they sucked in food. A crankbait run thru them was ignored, as was a topwater bait worked over them.

I pitched a double Zoom Fluke rig to them and as the Fluke floated in the current, one of the fish sucked it in. I am not sure whether it was accidental or on purpose. When I set the hook, nothing happened for a few seconds. The big fish did not seem to know it was hooked. I checked my watch and it was 11:06 AM.

Then the fish took off, diving and heading under the barge. I was using a heavy baitcasting rod with 15 pound PLine, and the hook was a 5/0 Gamahatsu, so I could put a lot of pressure on the fish. I forced it to follow the boat out and around the barge.

Out in the main river I fought the fish hard but could not get it to the surface. I would pull it up then it would dive again. After 18 minutes, my hands and arms were getting real tired so I decided one of us had to have some relief. I put all the pressure I could on the fish and started forcing it to the surface.

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