For one teenager in Polk County, Tennessee, a trip to remove a troublesome snapping turtle ended up in a new state record for rainbow trout. Officials from the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency confirmed that 15-year-old John Morgan broke the previous state record while fishing on the farm property of a family friend on June 17. Morgan was originally invited there to help catch a snapping turtle in a pond, but had decided to bring some fishing gear along in case he was finished early. After he caught the turtle, Morgan said the fish bit within 10 minutes of casting. After another 10 minutes, the fish was on the shore.
“I didn’t think there would be one that would be a state record, but I knew there would be some big ones in there,” Morgan told the Times Free Press regarding the private pond.
The trout weighed 18 pounds, 8 ounces, with a measurement of 32 inches long and 22.25 inches in girth. At that size, there may not have been room for much else in the pond. According to wildlife officials, Morgan’s catch surpassed the previous record set by Ronnie Rowland in 2002. That fish was caught in the Ft. Patrick Henry Reservoir and measured 16 pounds, 15 ounces.
Morgan may be young, but those who know him say the high school sophomore is a devoted outdoorsman. The angler already dropped his catch off at a taxidermist, and plans on mounting it beneath the skull of a six-point buck he harvested this last season. Morgan says he spends as much time outdoors as possible, and started fishing not long after he learned how to walk.
“I first got into fishing when I was 3 or 4 years old, caught my first fish and just loved the thrill of it,” he told WRCB.
Morgan added that he fishes several days a week, and cleans all the fish that he keeps.
“We’re very excited for this young man to find himself in the record book,” said TWRA Region III fisheries program manager Mark Thurman in a press release. “With so many records being broken these days, we look forward to seeing what the next state record fish is.”
Image courtesy Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency