KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:
MacArthur Park here in Los Angeles is in the middle of the city near downtown. And at the center of the park is a small lake. And it's not most people's idea of a picturesque fishing spot.
SERGIO TALAVERA: You've got hundreds of homeless there. Every time we get there we have to make sure that we're not going to be sitting on needles. You see syringes floating in the water, on the ground. It's just - it's one of those parks that - where they tell you the sun goes down, you'd better get out of there.
MCEVERS: That's Sergio Talavera. He goes by Big Serg. And he is the president of the California Ghetto Carping Club.
ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:
That's its actual name. He and his fellow club members are proud to fish for carp in some of LA's less desirable spots.
TALAVERA: That's where the name comes from, ghetto. Any parks in Los Angeles that the normal fishermen will not go we will go. We grew up in this kind of environment, so it's no big deal to us.
SHAPIRO: And it was there in MacArthur Park this week that the California Ghetto Carping Club saw its record-breaking fish.
EDDIE SALMERON: It was like any other Monday.
MCEVERS: That's club member Eddie Salmeron. He was fishing and chatting with Big Serg when he got a bite. And it was a big one.
SALMERON: I set the hook and that was when the whole fight began. My forearms started feeling it. My back started feeling it. My biceps felt everything. It was just - it was the longest 10 minutes of my life.
MCEVERS: The fish was so big that at first Eddie couldn't reel it in, so he kept tension on the line and waited for the fish to tire out. Finally, it was 12 yards away.
SALMERON: Big Serg saw it, and that's when he screamed out, Ed, it's huge. It's a monster. And I started shaking. I started getting tunnel vision. I couldn't focus on nothing else.
SHAPIRO: Fifty pounds. A 50-pound carp in the middle of Los Angeles. It was so big it barely fit in the net.
SALMERON: I couldn't believe what I was seeing. I couldn't believe what I had landed. I couldn't believe what I was holding in my hands. It was just something incredible that happened to me that day.
SHAPIRO: Just to give you a sense of how big a 50-pound carp is...
SALMERON: This fish was so massive it was huggable. And it felt - it looked like - it looked like those big teddy bears that you get on the carnival rides when you win them, the big, fat, plumpy (ph) ones. That's how fat that fish was.
MCEVERS: So for any of you fishermen or women out there, you might want to add LA's MacArthur Park to your list of possible vacations.
SALMERON: The fishing here is just phenomenal. The fishing is great in the middle of downtown LA. Who would've thunk that?
MCEVERS: And if you go, you have a chance at a 50-pounder. The California Ghetto Carping Club is strictly catch and release.
SHAPIRO: So that massive huggable fish is still swimming at the bottom of MacArthur Park Lake right now, getting fatter by the day.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "I SHALL BE RELEASED")
NINA SIMONE: (Singing) They say everything can be replaced.
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