GREEN RIVER -- Not only was Mike Bozner’s carp huge, the crowd that gathered to watch him play and land it was unofficially the largest attendance ever at a battle of angler vs. state record fish.
Over 50 onlookers gathered as the Rock Springs angler fought the 30.23-pound fish for over 15 minutes. The battle occurred on the dock of the Buckboard Marina at Flaming Gorge Reservoir June 17.
"It was the funnest fighting fish I’ve ever had," the avid Flaming Gorge angler said. "I wish I could do that every day."
That morning Bozner had been enjoying himself catching 2-to 3-pound lake trout in the bay when another angler told him the smallmouth bass were also hitting. Bozner tied a white curly-tailed grub on his 8-pound test line. The first cast hooked the big female carp.
"I had no idea what it was for the first three or four minutes," Bozner said, as he was helpless to stop the 35-inch carp’s long runs. The fish also boasted a 29-inch girth.
Although Bozner had never caught a carp on a lure intended for a game fish, another Green River angler caught a 24-pounder on a Rapala while fishing for lake trout on Flaming Gorge this June. The former state record -- a 28-pounder from Fontenelle Reservoir -- was caught on a spoon trolling for kokanee salmon in Sept. 9, 1996.
This is the second time Bozner had a noteworthy encounter with a species he wasn’t after. While fishing for catfish June 13, 1998, he landed a 1.2-pound Utah chub. The fish still reigns as a state record.
"Some of my friends call me the ‘trash man’ now," Bozner jokes, referring to his two state record nongame fish. "Maybe I should go after the white sucker record, too."
The only state record species larger than the carp is the 50-pound lake trout. Bozner has caught a 38-pound laker from Flaming Gorge.
The North American record carp weighed 57 pounds 13 ounces and was caught in a tidal basin near Washington, D.C. May 1983.