Monster catch wins a distant admirer

21:58, Nov 01 2012
Timaru shearer, Evan Johnson, with what is thought to be his world record 39.7lb (18 kg) brown trout.
DID NOT GET AWAY: Timaru shearer, Evan Johnson, with what is thought to be his world record 39.7lb (18 kg) brown trout.

Evan Johnson's been too busy working out of town to make many plans for the monster brown trout he landed last week.

But he's got options.

The Timaru shearer set a national record with his 39.7lb (18kg) female trout, caught on October 22 in the Ohau C canal after a 20-minute battle that cost him his landing net.

Yesterday, an Oregon-based taxidermist contacted the Herald, offering to mount Mr Johnson's trout for free if the big fish was sent to the United States.

Rick Arnold, who operates the business Trophy Trout Guide, said he was alerted to Mr Johnson's record catch by a friend in Wyoming who saw the Herald article.

He described himself as "kind of in the loop" of the international "big trout scene" but said he only offered free mounts for really exceptional fish.

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It would require packing the frozen fish in a crate of dry ice and sending it air freight at a cost of hundreds of dollars, which Mr Johnson would have to cover, he said.

The finished product wouldn't be the actual fish, but a long-lasting replica cast in fibreglass and custom measured and painted to exactly match the real thing.

Whether Mr Johnson's catch set a world record was doubtful, Mr Arnold said, at least according to data from the Florida-based International Game Fish Association.

"But that's the fish of a lifetime, for sure. My hat's off to him."

It seems unlikely that Mr Johnson's fish will make the journey to the US because it's already in the hands of a local taxidermist.

It was taken there after a few days in the ice freezer of a bottle store in Omarama, where it generated a bit of a stir as people ventured into the store to have their photo taken with it, Mr Johnson said.

"There's something about a big fish, isn't there, that just gets people excited.

"It'll be something to have it hanging on the wall, anyway."

The Timaru Herald