Don Uhing makes it sound so easy.
He’ll glance outside and spot a big fish lurking in the private lake 40 feet from his back door. He’ll pull out his 20-year-old compound bow, and go to work.
“I’ll try to shoot one and usually I’ll get them,” he said. “It’s kind of fun.”
Uhing, who lives near Blair, toppled the Nebraska record for grass carp in August with a monster that weighed 79 pounds, 12 ounces and was 49½ inches long. That broke the record he turned in a month earlier with a 78-pound, 14-ounce fish that was 53½ inches in length.
Both fish were officially weighed at the Ak-Sar-Ben Aquarium. Uhing did some research, and said the world record is 92 pounds, caught by an archer in Alabama.
Even though he downplays his efforts, catching the carp does require some effort. It took about a half hour before he got a perfect shot at the smaller carp.
The 78-pounder fought hard enough that Uhing eventually tied his string to the boat dock and let it tire itself out. The 79-pounder was stunned by the shot through its midsection, and Uhing was able to pull it to shore in five minutes.
“They are very strong fish,” he said.
The carp, which eat grass, hang out 15 to 20 feet from shore during the summer months. Uhing can easily spot their fins, which ride above the water as they swim.
He’s very experienced with a bow, having fished most of his life at Gavins Point Dam, where he and his father and then his three sons used to chase carp and buffalo.
He’s since sold his boat and limited his fishing activity to when he sees a big one in his backyard.
He doesn’t want to reveal the name of the lake or where it’s located because after he caught a state record carp there in 2002, the lake was inundated with anglers looking for another one. He had two nice ones that year, too, at 56 and 61 pounds.
The record he just broke was 67 pounds, 14 ounces.
“I think I got the last of the big ones,” Uhing said. “We haven’t seen another fish since.”
He estimates the carp were about 22 years old. You can tell, he said, by putting a bright light under a scale and counting the growth rings. Carp can live 16 to 18 years.
“Once the fish get this big, they just swim around,” he said. “They don’t do the job. They are retired, I guess.”
There’s still some youngsters eating the grass in the lake. Uhing, with the approval of the lake’s board of directors, purchased and released 25 carp eight years ago.
He estimates they weigh about 20 to 25 pounds now.
That’s not enough to catch his attention. That takes a really big fish, or the 60-year-old prefers just to relax in his armchair when he gets home from work.
“When you live on a lake and you don’t use it, that’s the shame,” he said.
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