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Alabamians’ harrowing fight with giant fish ends in world record catch

Bryan Hughes and Scott Jennings with their record-breaking grass carp.
Bryan Hughes and Scott Jennings with their record-breaking grass carp.

GUNTERSVILLE, Ala. — An Alabama man set a world record this summer for heaviest bowfishing catch by nabbing a 92-pound grass carp in Lake Guntersville, only nine days after the previous record was set in the same area.

Bryan Hughes, president of Backwater Outdoors, a North Alabama hunting supply business that specializes in bowfishing equipment, was featured on FieldandStream.com this month for his record-breaking catch.

Backwater Outdoors sponsors a monthly bowfishing tournament on the 68,000 acre Lake Guntersville, where the last two world records have been snagged.

“A lot of times when you see a good fish in the water, you don’t realize just how big it is until you bring it up,” Hughes reminisced. “But this one I knew right away was as big as anything I’d ever seen.”

Immediately recognizing he’d have a fight on his hand, Hughes knew they’d need to strategize to be able to land the record-smashing carp.

“When you get a big fish, you don’t want to start reeling as hard as you can,” Hughes explained. “You let it run and use the boat to catch up and get a backup shot in. Carp are really soft-fleshed fish, so they’re bad about coming off anyway, and the more you play them the riskier it gets. So we let it run.”

The anglers knew they needed to get another line in the massive carp to have any chance of wrangling it out of the water. Hughes’ fishing buddy Scott Jennings and his fiancé, Madison Browning, both took shots at the fish, but missed.

“I was kinda starting to panic. I told them, ‘Please, will somebody shoot this fish again?’ I was getting a little frustrated,” said Hughes.

“We had so many lines tangled from everybody going around in circles that Scott had to go to the back of the boat and get another bow to finally make the shot.”

Coming in originally at 93.3 pounds, the whopper bottomed out several scales before finding a certified scale that could handle its massive weight. The official weigh in came in at 92 pounds.

“I’ve had a couple of state records before, but that was before social media,” Hughes observed. “This just blew up immediately. All my friends were telling me, ‘Man, I’m tired of hearing about your fish; that’s all I’ve read on Facebook for three days.’ But you have to take your 15 minutes and get all you can out of it.”

At 52.5 inches long and 39 inches around, the carp was enough to snag Hughes the world record, but he surprisingly didn’t end up winning the tournament for total catch—that honor went to another fisher who pulled in a greater total stringer weight.

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