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Record lost when big enough scale can’t be found

Eric Lichamer caught 72-pound grass carp Sept. 15 Lake Zurich. | For Sun-Times Media

Eric Lichamer caught a 72-pound grass carp Sept. 15 in Lake Zurich. | For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: October 27, 2012 6:17AM

Driving down the highway with a fish tail sticking out of a 50-gallon drum in his vehicle, Eric Lichamer
carried more than just any old big fish.

Try a 72-pound grass carp. He caught it Sept. 15
from a small pond in Lake Zurich, but it won’t be an Illinois record because he couldn’t get it weighed on a big enough certified scale in time.

Oh, he tried.

The 29-year-old carpenter from Libertyville was fishing at a pond ‘‘smaller than a football field’’ by his aunt’s place when he noticed something big swimming around. So he chummed with bread and fished with a ball of dough.

‘‘I was by myself,’’ Lichamer said. ‘‘I had two rods. As soon as I hooked it, I threw the other one into the grass. When I finally had the fish in and went running up the shore, the hook from the other rod went in my hand.’’

He was using a medium-action G. Loomis bass rod with a spinning reel with
a Spectra super line,
Sufix 832. He uses the tough line because he often fishes without a leader for northern pike in the Des Plaines River. So he was prepared to handle a big fish.

Then the real fun began. Holding a 511/2-inch fish with a girth of 33 inches, Lichamer knew he had something special.

He filled a baby swimming pool, then ‘‘called close to 100 places’’ in an effort to find a place with a big enough certified scale. Finally, he took it to the Salmon Stop in Waukegan.

That’s when Lichamer drove down the highway with the fish tail sticking out of the 50-gallon drum. But his fish bottomed out the Salmon Stop’s scale at 62 pounds.

Lichamer knew it was heavier than that. He first had weighed it on his hand-held Rapala scale, but it bottomed at 60 pounds. So he weighed himself on a scale, then held the fish, and it weighed 72 pounds more.

One of the techniques with verifying record fish is to freeze it in wet towels.

‘‘I wish I could have frozen it, but I don’t have a freezer that big,’’ Lichamer said. ‘‘You pretty much need a walk-in freezer.’’

One phone call he made was to district fisheries biologist Frank Jakubicek. When he came to work Sept. 17, Jakubicek found Jones Meat Market in Woodstock could weigh a fish that big.

Unfortunately, the grass carp weighed only 681/2 pounds and was dead by then, so Lichamer didn’t take it in.

‘‘I know for the next time,’’ he said.

So the Illinois record for grass carp (69 pounds, 8 ounces) stands. Daniel McDougall caught that
52-inch fish July 13, 2000, out of Lake Petersburg, which has produced several record grass carp.

Hunting notes

Bowhunting for deer opens Monday, with widespread reports of epizootic hemorrhagic disease but with favorable field conditions. Corn harvest in Illinois was
54 percent complete through Sunday, compared with the five-year average of 23 percent.

Places and faces

Saturday is National Public Lands Day. There will be seed collection at Isle a la Cache Preserve in Romeoville and brush control at Romeoville Prairie Nature Preserve. Go to or call (815) 263-7900. For other options in the Chicago area, go to . . . Lake Lawn is presenting its second annual Fall Family Festival on Delavan Lake. Call (800) 338-LAKE or go to

Stray cast

Take your pick: Louie Spray and his ‘‘world-record’’ muskie or the replacement refs and their ‘‘calls.’’

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