Kenny Files said he "knew I had something" when he felt more than a little tug on his fishing line April 14 in the flood-swollen Potomac River near Williamsport in Washington County.

Files, who was 12 at the time and has been fishing since "I was 3 or 4" pulled in a 31.75-pound muskie after casting a large white plastic grub lure. It turned out to be the state record.

Files' father, Ken, said he was a bit surprised at his son's big haul. He had been fishing the same waters across from their home Falling Waters, W.Va., and had not caught anything bigger than a 9 1/2- pound largemouth bass at their regular fishing spot. The younger Files said his biggest previous catch had been an 8-pound northern pike.

According to John Mullican, a biologist for the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, the upper Potomac River has become a popular spot for anglers to catch muskie. Though they are hard to catch — many refer to the muskie as the fish of "a thousand casts" — Kenny Files said he was not out there that long before he had a bite. A rather big one at that.

The previous record was a 28.25-pound muskie caught in 2004 by Matt Deal, also on the upper Potomac.

Kenny Files, now 13, was pretty nonchalant after receiving a plaque recognizing him for his achievement from the Department of Natural Resources during the Maryland Fishing Challenge festivities Sept. 10 at Sandy Point State Park.

"It's cool," he said.

The same can be said of the fish he caught. It now resides in the family's freezer.

"I'm waiting for a friend to mount it," Ken Files said.

don.markus@baltsun.com

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