A 54-pound fish brought in on 10-pound line in only two minutes -- that would be a good day of fishing. Keith Huschka had just that sort of day on June 19.
The Dickinson man now holds the North Dakota buffalo fish record. He pulled the 42-inch fish from the Heart River, in the tail waters of the Heart Butte Dam.
The lifelong fisherman had gone out solo to catch walleye but big fish kept bending the hooks. He had only been fishing for about an hour when he hooked the record-breaker on a crank bait -- "just a walleye rig."
"It was all over in two minutes," he said. "I didn't have to fight it very long."
The river isn't very wide so it didn't have far to go, he added. He netted it and carried it off the bank.
"It looked like it just jumped off the TV screen off the TV show 'River Monsters,'" he said about the show, which features strange and dangerous fish.
When asked what he said when he first saw it, Huschka joked, "I'm sure it's something you can't put in the paper."
Three people saw him catch the fish and dozens joined him to take pictures and (try to) lift it.
"You just got to get out there and fish," Huschka said. "There's no secret and talent, it's a matter of circumstance."
Fred Gengler, Dickinson, has known Huschka for nearly 40 years and doesn't have quite the same philosophy. He said Huschka is a good fisherman.
"He's really tuned into fishing -- he knows his stuff," Gengler said.
Huschka took the fish to the marina at Lake Tschida and the 50-pound scale wouldn't register it so he contacted the North Dakota Game and Fish Department's Dickinson office. They weighed the carp at his house. They then had to take it to Dean's Meat Market because the business has a state certified scale.
"That's a lot of fish," said Jeff Hendrickson, North Dakota Game and Fish Department biologist with the Dickinson office.
Buffalo carp are common in the Heart, Missouri and Cannonball rivers, he said.
The fish broke the record of 51 pounds, 4 ounces that was held by Joshua Bartz of Bismarck. He caught that fish in the Missouri River two years ago but, with a bow, Hendrickson said.
The previous hook and line record was 40 pounds 6 ounces, set in 2002. That fish was also pulled from the Heart River, Heart Butte Dam tail waters, he said.
Huschka received a plaque from the state. He said the conditions were just right for big carp because of the amount of rain. He says if the conditions repeat next year, there's a good chance record-breakers will be out there again for the taking.
"The fish is resting peacefully in a freezer and waiting to go to a taxidermist," Huschka said Wednesday.
If someone thinks they have a record fish they must notify the Game and Fish Department and it has to be weighed on certified scale, Hendrickson said.