On a recent fishing trip to Reelfoot Lake, Victor Siwik of Reagan, Tennessee, made an unbelievable catch—a large bighead carp with a strange white and yellow coloration. Siwik was staying at Reelfoot Outdoors with his wife for Memorial Day Weekend. They were out late fishing on the night of May 28. On the morning of the 29th, Siwik headed out for a solo morning session of bank fishing while his wife slept in.
Siwik was snagging with a big treble hook, hoping to land a paddlefish, which were still in season at the time. Instead, Siwik got into a bunch of silver carp, an invasive fish notorious for jumping out of the water and posing a safety hazard to boaters. He’d caught around 20 silver carp and was about ready to call it a day.
“I decided I was going to go ahead and try for just one more fish,” he says. “And, boy, I’m glad I did. I cast as far as I could, and when I hooked up, that dude took off to the left and would just not stop. The drag was screaming.”
Siwik battled the big fish for a while before getting a glimpse of it. He could barely believe his eyes. “I saw that white tail come out of the water and I was like ‘daggum, I cannot lose this fish,'” he says. “That meant not horsing it in and just letting it play out. When you got one that big on the line, that’s about all you can do. You gotta be easy with them.”
After a good 15-minute battle using a Berkley Big Game Fishing Rod, Siwik brought the beast close to the shore. To land the brute, he says he jumped into the water and grabbed it by its mouth, before dragging it to dry ground. It was a hell of a fish—and the first bighead carp Siwik ever caught on a rod and reel. It weighed 41.68 pounds and was 4 feet, 1 inches long. But even more notable, the fish was nearly all white with some yellow and black markings.
“I have never seen or caught a fish like this one in real life,” says Siwik. “The first thing I thought was ‘thank you god,’ because I knew I was blessed. Then, I was just really excited to show it to my wife.”
The bighead carp likely has a rare genetic condition called leucism, which inhibits melanin, causing unusually pale or patchy coloring. The condition is distinct from albinism, which results in the complete absence of melanin—and any coloring other than white. Earlier this spring, a woman caught a shockingly white albino catfish on the Tennessee River.
Bighead carp, like silver, black, and grass carp, are considered invasive in Tennessee. The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency notes that the species’ can have harmful effects on native species and they’re working to remove them from impacted waterways. As for Siwik’s fish, he plans to get a replica mount of it done—and, it’s going to be a unique one.