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12-Year-Old Sets New Kentucky Bowfishing Record with Giant Bighead Carp

“Line was just peeling off my reel. Then I ran out and it was almost jerking me into the water. I was almost about to go in”
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Scout Trader holds up the record-breaking bighead carp. Courtesy Shooter's Choice Tournament

Young bowfisherman Scout Trader scored big while competing with his family in the Shooter’s Choice Bowfishing Tournament on western Kentucky’s Lake Barkley on July 16. That night, Trader arrowed a massive bighead carp that blew away the youth state record for the species, the Journal-Enterprise reports. The fish weighed 61 pounds.

Trader was joined that night by his dad, Dustin, and his brothers, Sawyer Trader and Dalton Hearrin. Standing on the deck of their boat, the men used spotlights to locate oversized carp in the shallows.

“They are super hard to find,” Dustin told the publication. “We’ve had countless hours scouting for this kind of fish. It finally came together the other night and we found the big caliber fish to be able to compete with those other guys.”

youth bowfishing record kentucky bighead carp
Scout Trader was joined by his brother Sawyer Trader (left to right), father Dustin Trader, and brother Dalton Hearrin. Courtesy Shooter’s Choice Tournament

That big-caliber fish was near the surface when the team spotted it. Scout, who’s only been bowfishing competitively for about a year, was nervous about making the shot.

“I was just praying I would hit it and that I could get it in the boat,” he said.

Scout’s arrow connected, but he hit the fish back near its tail. The giant carp raced away, taking every inch of line off Scout’s reel and pulling him to the edge of the boat. He had to brace himself against the outer railing to keep from falling in.

“Line was just peeling off my reel,” he told the Journal-Enterprise. “Then I ran out and it was almost jerking me into the water. I was almost about to go in.”

The fish stayed attached, though. And as soon as they got in in the boat, Dustin knew they had a potential record on their hands.

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Back at the tournament weigh-in, they put Scout’s fish on the scale, where it registered 61 pounds. That weight was confirmed on July 17 and the Bowfishing Association of America made Scout’s record official. It’s the heaviest bighead carp ever taken by a bowfisherman under the age of 18 in Kentucky, topping the previous state record by a full 20 pounds. It’s also just seven pounds shy of the youth world record.

Native to China and categorized as a “rough fish” in the U.S., bighead carp are on the list of undesirable fish species that have established themselves in the Mississippi River Basin. They are frequently harvested with bows and can reach huge sizes. The bowfishing world record for the species weighed just over 104 pounds.

You can read the full story of the record carp over at the Journal-Enterprise.