Teen reels in record-breaking fish

May 12, 1999

Big FishBy KIMBERLY YAKOWSKI / Staff Writer

Almost every angler has a tale or two about the one that got away, but 15-year-old Mike Fiorita Jr., had a tale about the fish he caught.

And what a fish it was. The Falling Waters, W.Va., teenager reeled in a brook trout that tipped the scales at 6 pounds, 1.75 ounces.

He caught the fish on April 10 in the Barnum area on the North Branch of the Potomac River in Garrett County in far Western Maryland.


With the catch, Fiorita broke a 14-year-old Maryland state record of 4 pounds, 12 ounces. That trout was pulled in on May 30, 1985.

Fiorita's catch measured 22 inches long and had a girth of 15 inches.

"I was really shocked when I saw it. It was unusual," said Fiorita, who attends Hedgesville High School.

The youth fishes regularly with his father and the two on a whim decided to travel to Barnum.

"It was a nice sunny day and we really like it up there," he said.

The ninth-grader said no other anglers were around when he and his dad, Mike Fiorita Sr., settled down for a day of fishing at 6 a.m. that Saturday.

Using sweet corn as bait, Fiorita said he waited about three hours before hooking "the big one."

"It gave me a real good fight. It took my drag out the whole way," he said.

His tug-of-war with the brook trout took about 10 minutes.

Fiorita said he and his father were excited and hopeful they had a record-breaker when they hauled the trout out of the water.

Fiorita checked his fish at Wolfe's on the Square in Williamsport.

An experienced angler, Fiorita started fishing when he was 6 years old. He said he enjoys the sport because it allows him to spend time outdoors with his father.

He was named Fisherman of the Year by the Bass Club of Williamsport in 1998, he said.

Fiorita's big fish likely grew to such a size by spending time gorging on food near the net pens beneath the Jennings Randolph Dam, according to Bob Lunsford, Maryland Department of Natural Resources director of fresh water fisheries.

"There are huge brown rainbow and cut-throat trout that feed outside of the net pens and reach some fairly amazing sizes," said Lunsford.

A typical brook trout weighs about half a pound, he said.

He said the spot where Fiorita caught his trophy normally is the site of big catches because of its deep, cold water.

DNR biologists verified Fiorita's catch was legitimate last week. A replica of the trout will be mounted and given to Fiorita to commemorate his achievement, he said.

Lunsford praised Fiorita's angling ability and said he expects his record to last at least as long as the one he broke.

"It took luck to hook it but a lot of skill to be able to reel it in," he said of Fiorita's catch.

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