Sam Madigan already has a fish tale to share and he’s only 7 years old.

The Reedsburg boy caught a large black crappie just after 6:30 p.m. May 27. His father, Tom Madigan, said Sam caught the 16-inch, 3-pound fish on Lake Virginia in Reedsburg.

It wasn’t enough to set a record but it was still an exhilarating catch for the young angler.

In Wisconsin, the average crappie measures 8 to 10 inches, according to the Department of Natural Resources. The state record white crappie measured 16.5 inches and weighed 3 pounds and was caught in Monroe County in 2003. The largest black crappie, weighing 4 pounds, 8 ounces, measured 19.75 inches and was landed in Iron County in 1967.

Sam Madigan said he, his father and a family friend, Sam Kline, were fishing for bass along the Lake Virginia shore when he felt a bite. Excitement built as he reeled.

“We thought it was a bass because you usually don’t catch a fish that big,” Sam Madigan said. “My pole almost snapped. That was a treat.”

Tom Madigan was equally surprised.

“I didn’t know a pole could bend that much and not break,” he said.

As soon as Sam Madigan landed the fish, his father realized it wasn’t a bass and quickly went for the ruler. Even though it didn’t break the record, father, son and friend still laughed, smiled and applauded the boy’s luck. Tom Madigan immediately went for his phone.

“We took lots of pictures and Dad told people,” Sam Madigan said.

Sam said he used one of his two adolescent-sized poles and minnows for bait.

They hauled the fish home in a bucket, where Tom Madigan wrapped it in a wet towel and plastic, put it in a box and stored it in a freezer. Now the family waits to have it mounted by a taxidermist.

Tom Madigan said they didn’t contact the DNR because it didn’t set a new record.

According to DNR data, crappies measuring more than 13 inches are at least 10 years old.

Beth Madigan said her husband and son look forward to hitting the shoreline with their poles. The family vacations near Chetek, but fishing isn’t limited to trips.

They’ll fish for anything and usually try to eat their catch, Tom Madigan said.

Sam Madigan was well prepared for this fishing season due to bittersweet reasons. The Madigans said their son was diagnosed with leukemia last August and had frequent hospital stays through the winter. During treatments the boy talked about fishing, planning where to go and what to catch. Family and friends bought him lures, gear and a pole to fuel his spirit.

Sam Madigan has made a solid recovery, his father said.

Sam Madigan said he can’t wait until the fish is done at the taxidermist and already knows where he’s going to put it.

“Right by my bed,” he said. “We have bunk beds and it’s going to be right beside me. Every time I see it I’ll think of that story over and over again.”

Follow Heather Stanek on Twitter @HStanek1 or reach her at 608-697-6353.

I am the reporter and photographer for the Reedsburg Times-Press. I also shoot, edit and post videos for stories.