Minnesota Girl, 11, Chases Down Giant Carp and Catches It With Bare Hands

A young girl has caught an enormous carp with her bare hands in the shallows of Lake Minnetonka, Minnesota.

Maddie Freese, an avid fisher at 11 years old, regularly participates in kids fishing tournaments, ranging from lakes and rivers to ice fishing. The Freese family from St. Michael was on a family day out to Lake Minnetonka when Maddie spotted the huge fish near to where they were in the shallows.

"She started running through the water, chasing it. And then she dove under, grabbed it by the tail, and it swung around to get away from her, and it got away," Maddie's mother Diana Freese told Fox 9. "And then she dove underwater again and did a big bear hug around it and picked it up out of the water."

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Stock image: a common carp. iStock / Getty Images Plus

Freese estimated that the carp weighed around 45 pounds, about half the weight of the average 11-year-old girl. The giant fish was released back into the lake after Maddie took some proud pictures with her catch.

Lake Minnetonka, which is 30 feet deep on average and located in central Minnesota, is home to a vast ecosystem of freshwater organisms. Commonly seen fish include black bullheads, bluegills, green sunfish, largemouth bass, northern pike, and walleye. The lake is popular with both anglers and recreational boaters.

Minnetonka is home to a variety of invasive species too, one of which is the common carp, the species that Maddie nabbed. They were introduced by European settlers in the 1880s as a potential game fish, but have exploded in population since.

In the southwest of Lake Minnetonka, an estimated 60,000 common carp infest the waters of Halsted Bay, according to the University of Minnesota's Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center. This is about five times the level needed for sustainability.

The problem is that the carp stir up the mud, uprooting vegetation and creating conditions that are ideal for algal growth. With algal blooms, the water turns turbid and oxygen-depleted. This causes a chain reaction whereby the natural vegetation starts dying due to lack of sunlight, eventually leading to reduction in populations of valuable game fish.

The Minnehaha Creek Watershed District plans to combat the carp by targeting the nearby lakes that drain into the Minnetonka, catching the carp in nets and moving them out of the lake.

"When we need to take fresh fish somewhere and put them to good use we bring them [to the Wildlife Science Center in Stacy]. They have the best fed wolves in the state, I'm sure," contractor Jordan Wein, general manager of Carp Solutions, told CBS.

Funded by a $567,000 grant from the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council, the carp control effort will also include installation of fish barriers and aeration devices to help oxygenate the waters of the lake.