There’s no telling what is swimming in the Ouachita River. Tuffy Spells, who has been sports fishing and commericial fishing for more than 50 years can tell you that.
His strangest catch of all came last week — a 20 pound Koi. A giant orange ornamental carp that looked like a giant goldfish.
“I’ve caught some strange things in the past, but there is no question this is the strangest,” he said. “I’ve never caught one like this before and I don’t know how it could have gotten there. I’m sure glad I caught it during the daytime because I don’t know what I would have thought if it had been at night.”
A biologist who examined photos of the fish confirmed it was a koi fish and it was probably released into the river by someone who had raised them in an ornamental pond years ago. Common carp, or fancier koi, are both in the same family and they can live as long as 20 years. No age estimate was available on this fish. This fish was caught in the backwater off the Ouachita River near the Felsenthal Lock and Dam area.
Koi is an informal group of Japanese carp with varieties marked by bright coloration, patterning and large scales. Major colors include black, red, orange, yellow and cream. They feed off invertebrates filtered off of muddy lake and river bottoms. They are known to hang out in the shallows near Chinese Restaurants. Okay, I made that last part up.