An evening of carp shooting turned into a world record channel catfish for a couple of Montrose young men.
Cody Sechser, 19, and Isaac Kipp, 18, were on the West Branch of Skunk Creek 10 miles north of Hartford using bows and arrows to thin the carp population during spawning season. They and friend Riley Scotting had been at the spot for an hour when Scotting, who didn’t have a bow, saw this big fish up by the rocks in about a foot of water. Or was it just a rock?
“It was up where it shouldn’t have been,” Sechser said.
After realizing no rock has whiskers or fins like that, Sechser and Kipp each unleased an arrow.
“The barb on my arrow had broken beforehand on a carp. Isaac had his barb on his arrow. I knew we wouldn’t get it in if we didn’t have a barb. My buddy (Kipp) hit it right behind the head and it was dead instantly,” said Sechser, whose arrow also landed in the spine of the channel cat. “Once we hit it, we knew it was 20 (pounds) plus.”
After being weighed at Lake Time Steak House and Bait Shop on Lake Vermillion that Sunday evening and Montrose the next day, the fish’s official measurements were 24 pounds, 12 ounces, 38 ½ inches long and 20 ½ girth.
Archery catfish is a new category for South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks, “but this record could hold for quite a while. You just don’t typically get a shot at a big catfish with a bow and arrow,” said Dave Lucchesi, fish biologist with Game, Fish and Parks in Sioux Falls.
Sechser and Kipp suspected their lunker might also be a world record, so they took video of the weigh-in at the school and sent it to the Bow Fishing Association of America, which confirmed their suspicion June 18. They broke a record which had been in place less than two weeks — a 23-pounder landed in the South.
Part of certifying a record is verifying the species. Sechser, who will be a sophomore wildlife and fisheries student at South Dakota State University this fall, and Kipp, who will be a freshman wildlife and fisheries student at State, were confident their catch was not the similar looking blue catfish.
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They told Lucchesi they had counted the anal fin rays (24) and noted the anal fin was rounded, not squared off as with a blue catfish.
Kipp, who lives along the Little Vermillion, has two years bow fishing experienced, but Sechser had only bought his bow about a week before the record shot. He conceded the catch was “more luck than skill. It so happened that the thing swam by when we were there.”
After the channel cat’s weigh-in at the Montrose school, Sechser fileted and fried the record fish.
He noted the fish’s stomach was completely empty. “It would have weighed a lot more if it had been in a bigger river,” Sechser said.
He said the state wildlife biologist speculated the fish may have originated in the Big Sioux River about 25 miles away and followed spring flooding only to be unable to return after water levels dropped.
As Sechser and Kipp were waiting for confirmation of the record, they didn’t know if two people could be listed on one catch. They resorted to rock-paper-scissors to see who should be considered the record holder. Sechser won, but the effort was unnecessary. Lucchesi said co-recordholders have been allowed in other categories.
For Sechser, who has been hook-and-line fishing for catfish since he was 8, said this has been a dream come true.
In fact, “For a solid two hours (after the catch), I thought I was dreaming. It didn’t even seem like it was real. To be honest, I didn’t even sleep that first night.”