Alabama fisherman Ben Melvin shot a record state koi – yes, koi – during a family cruise trip on April 30th. He boarded the 13.4-pound exotic fish boat on the Mulberry River near Hanceville. Shows veteran recreational and touring fisherman F&S is just the fifth koi fish he has seen in a decade of fishing in the lakes and rivers of northern Alabama.
Melvin fishes archery seriously at least once a week, but on this walk, he says he was mostly enjoying a Saturday in the river with his family. Because the gar was planting in Mulberry in late April, he decided to take his bow with him in case he spotted any. He had already shot several races when he noticed the coin in bright orange. He was swimming towards the boat along with a smaller white koi that had black and orange spots. “I knew exactly what it was because they definitely stand out,” Melvin says. “It looked like a fire hydrant coming towards me in the water.”
Koi fish is a tame ornamental carp variety that is often collected in garden ponds. Although they are not thought to pose an ecological threat as important in Alabama as the invading Asian carp, they are considered an invasive species in the state. Their dumping in public waters is prohibited.
“If I had to guess, I would say it was flooded by someone’s pond,” says Melvin. “With all the sea bass on that river, I do not think a small fish of that color would survive long enough to become so big.”
After Melvin shot the fish, he feared that his arrow had not penetrated far enough that the thorns were fully dispersed. Thus, he allowed the fish to run without touching his coil. He and his wife then jumped after her into their canoe. This turned out to be a wise decision. “The arrow was almost out of the fish when I got it,” Melvin says. “It was a good thing we followed him, because if I had tried to ride him on horseback, I would certainly have lost him.”
The 13-pound and 31-inch-long fish did not look particularly extraordinary at first. “This is small compared to some of the 30-, 40-, 50-pound carp we shot,” says Melvin. But a friend started telling him how rare the neon colored koi was and that he had to mount it. Another friend told him it could be a state record. He searched the species on the Bowfishing Association of America (BAA) website and saw that the Alabama record was a 12-pound fish. When he weighed his goat at home, the weight showed 15 pounds, but by the time he got it on a certified scale, the weight had dropped to 13.4 – which was still big enough to take first place in Alabama at librin BAA.
Read more: The serpentine finds horny python tangle in the back porch
Melvin decided to accept his friend’s suggestion to take the services of a taxi driver and now he can hardly wait to have a very special mounting on his wall. “He’s neat,” Melvin says. “It’s definitely a story to tell. I’m proud of him, no doubt. “Like I said, I’ve only seen five of them in my whole life, so I guess I was in the right place at the right time.”