It may not be a state record, but it is close. On February 27, Calvin Johnston caught a 38-pound, seven-ounce brown trout from the White River near Cotter, Arkansas. According to the Arkansas Game & Fish Commission, it is the largest brown trout ever caught from that river, and the third largest ever taken in the state.

“This is just further evidence that anglers still have the opportunity to catch trophy fish on Arkansas’s world-class trout waters,” said Christy Graham, the state trout management program coordinator.

It’s not bad for what Johnston said is the first brown trout he’s ever caught. The angler was visiting from Kansas when his brother Nathan, a local police officer, invited him to a fishing trip with coworkers. Johnston said that he is much more familiar with bass, having only caught rainbow trout from a small pond near his Kansas home. Still, the two brothers had been fishing together for years and Johnston told The Baxter Bulletin that they are fiercely competitive. He just could not say no to a challenge.

Johnston ended up pulling in the 35.7-inch fish from a bank after a 20 minute fight. For most of the duration, Johnston said his brother just thought he was putting up an act.

“I thought holy cow this is a monster, I need some help. So I started calling for my brother,” he said. “Later, I found out he heard me, but he said, ‘I’m not going down there, it’s cold, he ain’t got no fish.’ What a brother, right? He blew me off—typical brother.”

Of course, disbelief quickly turned to shock as Johnston netted the massive brown trout and brought it ashore. It does not take a lot of trout-fishing experience to recognize that a near 40-pound trout was more than just a thing of beauty, it was possibly record-breaking.

“I knew immediately when I saw the fish it was a monster,” the angler told KETV.

The trout came just short of the current state record for brown trout, which is still held by a 40.4-pound fish caught in 1992 from the Little Red River. That fish belongs to angler Howard Collins. Johnston says he already sent the fish to a taxidermist and is planning to have it mounted.

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