Caleb Newton reeled in a 17.6-pound snakehead fish Saturday morning on Aquia Creek in Stafford, Va. Northern Virginia Bureau reporter David Culver has his story. (Photos courtesy Caleb Newton)
A Fredericksburg fisherman is holding out hope that his weekend catch may have broken the world record for biggest Northern Snakehead fish.
Caleb Newton and Phil Wilcox went fishing Saturday morning on Aquia Creek in Stafford, Va. when Newton reeled in the 17.6-pound fish. While Newton held the rod, he insisted if it wasn't for Wilcox, he wouldn't have been able to bring the massive fish onboard their boat.
"Without a doubt, this fish wouldn't have been landed if Phil wasn't there to get it into the net," Newton said.
Wilcox added, "I'm just as happy for him as if I would have caught it."
It's only fitting these good friends - and fishing buddies - shared the catch of a lifetime. The two grew up together.
At first, they didn't think their catch was anything special. In fact, it almost ended up on someone's dinner table.
"It went to the butchering block, and just before the knife went into it, I gave them a call and said, 'Hey... please put [the fish] back on ice. We need to get this thing down and get it weighed, because there's a possibility we've got a world record on our hands,'"Newton recalled.
The current world record, according to the International Fish Game Association, is 17.4 pounds. That fish was caught in May 2004 in Kagawa, Japan.
Newton's Northern Snakehead is 2 ounces more. If the IFGA approves it, the world record will move to the United States.
But John Odenkirk, District Fisheries Biologist with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, is confident even Newton's potential record will be broken.
"It's a nice fish, it's a trophy fish. [And] right now, it's probably going to be a world record, but my guess is it'll be broken several times," Odenkirk said.
Newton's accepted that fact, saying "The records are made to be beaten. This record will be beaten."
Still, he and Wilcox are celebrating. Should it become official, they've already planned to thank two other people in their acceptance speech, of sorts.
"If it wasn't for my wife, Jennifer Newton, and [Phil's] soon-to-be wife, Jessica Wilcox, a lot of this wouldn't be possible. Someone's got to stay home to take care of the fort while the boys are out catching world records, that's for sure," Newton said.
Newton should know by August if his catch officially breaks the world record.
If you're looking to reel in the next world record, you can do it this weekend for free in Virginia.
Free Fishing Day will be held Friday, Saturday and Sunday. No license is required. Click here for more information.