A British fisherman has reeled in one of the largest goldfish in the world while casting at a fishery in France. For 25 minutes, Andy Hackett struggled with the 67-pounder—nicknamed “The Carrot” for its rich, orange hue—before finally pulling the bright beauty from the depths of BlueWater Lakes in France’s Champagne region.
The Carrot is a hybrid of a leather carp and a koi carp that’s lived in the fishery’s stocked lake for the last two decades. Anglers pay to fish at the private body of water, which is brimming with massive carp, some weighing more than 90 pounds. BlueWater Lakes is so popular that it’s booked up for the foreseeable future, per the company’s website.
“We put The Carrot in about 20 years ago as something different for the customers to fish for,” says fishery manager Jason Cowler to the Daily Mail’s Dale Fox.
Anglers caught The Carrot nine times last season, but she hadn’t been reeled in for nine months when Hackett lured her to his rod on November 3. After Hackett caught The Carrot, fishery staffers weighed her, ensured that she was healthy and released her, as is protocol at BlueWater Lakes, reports CNN’s Taylor Nicioli.
Hackett credited his success to “sheer luck,” per the Daily Mail.
“I knew it was a big fish when it took my bait and went off, side to side and up and down with it,” Hackett tells the publication. “Then it came to the surface 30 or 40 yards out and I saw that it was orange.”
Though many fishermen dream about someday catching a giant goldfish like The Carrot, these colorful creatures are highly invasive once released into natural ecosystems. When owners dump their unwanted pets into wild ponds, the fish can balloon in size and disrupt the underwater habitat.
As Elizabeth Gamillo wrote for Smithsonian magazine in May, goldfish are voracious eaters that will “devour snails, small insects, fish eggs and young fish—and will wildly out-compete native fish.” When they feed, they disturb mud and cloud the water with sediment, robbing aquatic plants of sunlight.
Goldfish (Carassius auratus) are a type of carp that’s native to China. Around 2,000 years ago, members of the Song Dynasty began keeping the fish in tanks and ponds, viewing them as a symbol of fortune and luck, writes National Geographic’s Kylie Mohr. They are related to koi, another domesticated member of the carp family.
When kept in home fish tanks, goldfish typically measure around 2 inches long. But in ponds, wildlife managers have discovered dumped goldfish that have grown larger than a football, weighing up to four pounds and spanning 12 to 15 inches.
As Ben Turner writes for LiveScience, the creatures are especially hardy in the wild and can survive for many months without oxygen thanks to a special evolutionary trait. When the fish find themselves in environments without a lot of oxygen, such as frozen lakes, their bodies stop the process of aerobic respiration and instead begin transforming carbohydrates into alcohol, which they then emit from their gills.
Goldfish can reproduce quickly, and once they begin to thrive in a body of water, they can be difficult to remove. In Carver County, Minnesota, for instance, crews discovered an estimated 30,000 to 50,000 goldfish living in an inlet to a lake in 2020.