A record-sized fish has been placed on display at Bass Pro Shops in East Peoria.
A crappie weighing 4 pounds, 8.8 ounces was released into the large fish tank at the store as dozens watched. The fish was originally captured by Carbondale fisherman Ryan Povolish on March 28.
The Illinois Department of Natural Resources says the fish caught in Kinkaid Lake in Jackson County appeared to be a black crappie but testing confirms it was a hybrid. The previous state record for a hybrid crappie in Illinois was 4 pounds, 8.3 ounces. That fish was caught in a Jefferson County pond in 2008.
The existing state-record black crappie was caught at Rend Lake in 1976, weighing 4 pounds, 8.8 ounces. The Illinois record white crappie (4 pounds, 7 ounces) was caught in a pond in Morgan County in 1973.
“It’s kind of like a dream come true,” Povolish said. “You just don’t think something like this will happen to you. And when it does and it’s hard to take in.”
Povolish shared his fishing story with an attentive crowd Tuesday.
His tale begins like this; Povolish was fishing with a friend, intending to catch a bass. But when he hooked the crappie, which he later named “Chopper,” he knew he caught something big.
Povolish said when he pulled the fish out of the water, his first thought was, “now I have something to put on the wall.”
Povolish initially thought Chopper’s weight was a mistake.
“I thought the scale was broken the first time we weighed it,” Povolish said.
Povolish considered putting the fish back in the water, but was told the fish could die from disease after its contact with humans.
So he offered it to Bass Pro Shops, where it joins an impressive collection.
“For the fish to stay alive and be seen by a ton of people is an exciting feeling,” Povolish said.
Povolish says his young son, who was also at the event, is an avid fisherman. And getting to see his excitement was the best part of the whole experience.
“(Fishing) is in my blood,” Povolish said. “I’m excited for my son because if you give him a rod he will go fishing, rain or shine.”