Reese Hutchison has held various volunteer roles on town boards in Darien, Conn., over the years, most recently on the Sewer Commission.
Now he can add another title to his résumé: koi catcher.
On Friday, when streets in the coastal town were inundated by the tropical storm that swept through the region, Hutchison found what he described as a roughly 10-pound orange fish with black stripes swimming through the shin-deep floodwaters.
For around 30 minutes, Hutchison, a local property owner and contractor, chased the koi as it was swept along by the rushing water, passing downtown businesses as people looked on in disbelief. His attempts to wrangle the large fish were caught on video and shared on social media last week, with many wondering how in the world the koi ended up in the brownish storm water in the first place.
“He was a big boy,” Hutchison said. “He was very visible.”
Hutchison, 52, said he and another person spotted the fish in a parking lot off Grove Street Friday morning, as Hutchison tended to flooding in the basement of a nearby property he owns.
“I was dealing with six feet of water in the basement, pumping it out, and I walked back out knowing the pump wouldn’t run dry — and there was a fish,” Hutchison said. “He was swimming around the parking lot.”
The pair tried to catch the koi, but it proved hard to corner. After a few attempts, Hutchison called his 22-year-old son, Jack Kaiser, to come down and help. But even with the extra muscle, the koi couldn’t be corralled.
Soon, the fish took off from the parking lot, making its way toward another part of town with the help of the overflowing storm water, which shut down several areas in Darien.
“Please avoid unnecessary travel. Numerous roads are closed in Darien due to heavy flooding. Do not attempt to drive through flooded areas,” police posted on Twitter.
But swimming through them? That wasn’t off the table.
After the koi left the parking lot it traveled across Grove Street, up nearby Brook Street and onto Post Road — a roughly 300-foot journey.
“He went zooming toward Post Road,” Hutchison said. “I’m like, ‘You’re either going to get run over buddy, or you’re going to get sucked down one of the drains and go into the ocean.’ But rather than let that happen we tried our best to capture him.”
It was on Post Road, outside of Grieb’s Pharmacy and Sugar Bowl Luncheonette, that Hutchison, clad in a blue rain jacket and up to his shins in water, managed to catch the “decent-sized fish” using a small gray bucket.
“Luckily, with some pretty crude technology we were able to grab him,” Hutchison said.
People standing nearby filmed the odd scene, and video of Hutchison’s efforts were later shared by Darien Running Co. and posted on Grieb’s Pharmacy’s Facebook and Instagram accounts.
“Just a typical day at Grieb’s,” a company employee wrote in a post accompanying the clip, which by Monday morning had been viewed more than 25,000 times.
Just a typical day at Grieb’s 😂 #postrd #koi #fishoilPosted by Grieb's Pharmacy on Friday, July 9, 2021
“HOLY CARP!!” one person commented.
“Wow!! Is that dinner?” another said.
But others had something else on their minds besides the fish’s size: Where did it come from, exactly?
Hutchison said he can’t be entirely sure but is “95 percent” certain the orange fish swam out of an overflowing pond, called Tilley Pond, north of the parking lot where he encountered it.
But getting from Tilley Pond all the way to Post Road was an impressive feat, one that would have required both a lot of luck and travel, he said.
Hutchison said the fish would have had to cross over West Avenue — “a major road " — go through a parking lot, and then pass through a pipe underneath the Metro-North Railroad station.
“He had to have come from there,” he said. “There’s nobody with a fish pond in the area.”
After Hutchison and his son battled to get the fish into a bucket, Sugar Bowl Luncheonette employees gave them a large garbage can to hold the fish. Hutchison loaded the can in the back of a truck and they drove to Tilley Pond, where the koi was released “with a great story for his buddies that they won’t believe.”
“He went for quite a run,” Hutchison said.
Steve Annear can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @steveannear.