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HIGHLAND – A man caught a nearly 17-pound koi in a small Utah County pond, a type of carp that the Division of Wildlife Resources said should have never been there.
Jeremy Haws has been fishing at the same pond nearly every week for the last 40 years, so he pretty much knows what to expect below the water's surface: trout, large-mouth bass, blue gill and catfish.
The DWR restocks Highland Glenn Pond regularly.
"Well, I keep catching fish," said Haws, who now takes his children to the same pond. "Biggest large-mouth bass I caught was maybe five pounds."
He was hoping to get another big one on Thursday, but never expected a catch even close to the one he got.
"It was a shock when I hooked into it, just by how much it bent the pole. It pulled my drag and it kept pulling and pulling and pulling. I'd reel it in and it just kept pulling and I was like, man this thing is huge! Like what could possibly be in here that's that big?" he remembered thinking.
After what felt like 10 minutes of struggling to reel it in, a crowd had gathered around Haws.
He pulled out a catch that was too big to put into anything he brought with him.
"And they were like, 'oh, it's a koi. Like it's a big goldfish' and I was like, what?"
Koi is a type of carp that has become more of an ornamental fish, used as decoration because of their colors in private ponds and pools.
The DWR confirmed koi fish are invasive, and typically end up in a pond from someone dumping their pet fish in.
They warned fish owners that dumping any species of fish into a pond or lake is illegal and can be harmful to animals and the environment.
"I don't know what putting koi in here is going to affect, but usually, there's unintended consequences with putting fish that don't belong in a pond in a pond," Haws said. "Hopefully it doesn't have a negative effect."
Even the five-gallon bucket someone let Haws borrow was not big enough to hold the entire fish, which came in at a whopping 16.9 pounds.
"It's the most memorable fish I've caught ever, really," he said. "My guess is it's the record for this pond, but I don't know who keeps track of that."
Haws decided not to throw it back in the pond because he knew it didn't belong in there, but he suspects there are more carp in the pond.
"Don't dump fish in here, but hopefully I catch them if you do," he said.
Either way, he'll keep coming back to his favorite pond, perhaps a bit less sure of what he might find beneath the surface.