Young angler hooks record Arctic char

Posted Sept. 12, 2008, at 9:37 p.m.

When Carter McLaughlin hauled in a monster fish from a northern Maine pond a few weeks ago, it was pretty clear that the 11-year-old had once again shattered his father’s record catch.

Turns out, he also put all other so-called “blueback trout” fishermen in Maine to shame.

Carter, who lives in the Aroostook County town of Mapleton, is a new state record holder after hooking an Arctic char that measured 25.4 inches long and weighed 5.2 pounds. The 11-year-old’s catch broke the previous record — set nearly a quarter-century before he was even born — by just shy of a pound.

Carter and his father, Lionel, were fishing on Pushineer Pond in Township 15, Range 9 on Aug. 20 when the younger McLaughlin felt a tug on his line.

“It didn’t feel like a big one, but it was,” Carter said Friday evening when reached at his home.

The fish got wrapped around the anchor so many times the elder McLaughlin eventually pulled the anchor up. Carter said he then started hauling the line up by hand. And when he saw the fish’s tail splash, Carter told his dad this was no normal trout.

“He looked over and he almost fainted,” Carter said of his dad’s reaction. “We got it in the net and it almost didn’t fit. Then we got it in the boat and I couldn’t believe it.”

Neither, apparently, could a nearby fisherman who has been fishing for Arctic char — also known as blueback trout — for about 40 years. The man said he had never seen a blueback trout that large before.

The McLaughlins took their char to the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife office in Ashland, where a game warden checked it over. DIF&W announced on Friday that Carter’s catch is the new record to beat.

In a statement, Peter Bourque with DIF&W’s fisheries division said what makes Carter’s fish “truly incredible” is the fact that it was caught in one of the 12 waterways with native Arctic char. Introduced blueback trout tend to grow larger than normal in their new niche.

In fact, the 4-pound, 4-ounce char that the previous record holder, Merton Wyman of Bel-grade, caught in May of 1973 was one of 27 char that had been stocked in Basin Pond four years earlier, according to DIF&W.

For now, Carter said his 5.2-pound char is taking up space — a lot of it, apparently — in the family freezer awaiting its next life as a literal trophy fish.

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