Field & Stream Online Editors

Something big was pulling bass fisherman Robert Thomas around Illinois’ Lake Moses. As he shouted for help from passing motorists, the force on the end of his line dragged him on foot over rocks and under a bridge. No one came to his aid. Thomas suspected what had slammed his Berkley white tube bait: “Joanna,” a 6-foot, 40-pound Asian water monitor lizard that had been reported to have escaped from its owner weeks earlier in mid-June.

Thomas had hooked the dragon at one o’clock. At three he spotted his neighbor, who called the sheriff. By four o’clock, six deputies, an official from the game warden’s office, and Joanna’s owner had arrived. Four of them set out in a johnboat to capture the beast. The great four-and-a-half-hour battle ended when someone in the boat grabbed the fishing line and accidently snapped it off. Joanna disappeared into the murk, taking the all-tackle monitor lizard record with her.

The following Wednesday, the lizard was captured in a field near the lake–subdued by six men who gave chase, tackled the beast, and held it down. (Despite the 6-to-1 disadvantage, the charging, hissing lizard almost won.) Robert Thomas was back to fishing Lake Moses, his dreams of world records again limited to bass and sunfish.