Patrick Edwards had promised his daughter they’d go fishing, but when he stepped out into the frigid April morning, it stung his lungs.
“Uh, I dunno,” he told his daughter Katie, who was 11 at the time. Inside, the tempting woodstove still radiated heat from the roaring fire it nursed overnight.
“But you said we could go,” answered Katie.
Edwards had indeed promised his father-in-law, Jim Decklever, and his middle daughter Katie that they’d go fishing the morning of April 15 on the Wind River near Riverton. And that river still clung to the most treacherous winter in Fremont County history.
He decided to keep his promise. Laced with wind, the chill was miserable. Clear, webbed ice locked the river’s fringe in place against the bank.
But that morning, Edwards caught a world record white sucker fish.
“I just can’t believe it,” Edwards told Cowboy State Daily shortly after his International Game Fish Association (IGFA) World Record certificate arrived in his mailbox Monday. “I never thought that would happen.”
Yay For Wyoming
The fish weighed 6 pounds, 8.4 ounces. But the IGFA doesn’t count the decimal points; it rounds down to the nearest ounce.
Edwards now shares the IGFA all-tackle world record for the breed with Joel Anderson, who set his 6-pound, 8-ounce record April 20, 1984, while fishing on the well-known Rainy River in Minnesota.
Wyoming doesn’t teem with world-record fish. IGFA’s record books show the Cowboy State amassing about one-third as many world records as Georgia fishermen, about half as many as Colorado and about two-thirds of Minnesota.
“A lot of these fish are caught in other states where I think they have the potential to grow them bigger than we do here,” said Edwards.
In Edwards’ own winning category, the competitive all-tackle designation, there are just three IGFA world-record setters from Wyoming besides his own,and those are all trout.
Send In The Line
When he reeled in the hefty sucker, her gold scales shone in their black chain-link calligraphy. The sun was boldening.
“Man, that’s definitely a new state record,” Edwards thought to himself. He’d just caught a state-record longnose sucker two weeks earlier.
“That thing is massive,” said Decklever, who moments earlier had caught a hefty sucker of his own.
Back at home, Edwards wondered if the fish could be a world record.
It would be a monumental task to test that claim.
He printed his application, paid his processing fees, gathered a sample of the fishing line he used, hauled the fish to the post office for a certified weight, took it to the Lander Game and Fish office for breed certification, obtained signed and notarized statements – and sent all that documentation in to the IGFA.
Once the documentation makes it past the IGFA’s gatekeeper, it still has to survive the organization’s board.
Then he waited.
Dad, Mail’s Here
Six months passed.
Edwards was working from home Monday morning when his youngest daughter Faith brought him his mail.
“You might want to look at this one, Dad,” said Faith.
It was from the IGFA headquarters in Florida. The envelope betrayed the stubborn weight of cardstock inside.
Knowing it would be either a rejection letter on expensive cardstock or a world-record certificate, Edwards opened the letter, nervously.
“It had been so long – you kind of start to doubt. Maybe I did something wrong, or didn’t submit something right,” he said. “But I got it.”
‘Tough As Nails’
It’s been a thrilling year for Edwards. With two fish he won two state recordsand one world record. The Wyoming Game and Fish named him an ultimate angler — the agency’s highest achievement — because he has recently caught 10 master angler species.
He’s still in shock.
“It’s been really cool to have all those things happen to me this year,” he said.
The honors especially help to tout the credibility of Edwards’ Wyoming-based outdoors podcast, RadCast Outdoors, he said.
“To be a show, and now that’s part of your resume – when you have a podcast about fishing and the outdoors – that’s a big deal,” Edwards added.
But he couldn’t have done it without the people who have taken him fishing, he said.
Edwards voiced special gratitude for his dad Bobby Edwards, who started him off with a line when he was small, and his fishing mentor Danny Kurttila, a legendary angler in the state of Wyoming who lost his battle to bone cancer in September 2022.
The first winner of the ultimate angler status, Kurttila set numerous world records within certain line-weight classes and completed a Pike Slam, catching all pike species and subspecies in three continents, while fighting cancer.
“He’s one of the greatest anglers that’s ever lived in my opinion,” said Edwards. “Tough as nails.”
Clair McFarland can be reached at Clair@CowboyStateDaily.com.