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Angler Breaks Wyoming State Record for Tiger Trout

CHEYENNE – You never know what you may be reeling in sometimes, and that was the case for angler Owen Schaad when he caught his first glimpse of the new state record tiger trout. The Cheyenne resident was spending the day visiting family and fishing on Viva Naughton Reservoir near Kemmerer as he normally does every summer. They fish there often and don’t usually catch much, so he was surprised when he caught more than 20 fish, including a few tiger trout. Then, he landed the big one.

“I was fishing for maybe about 4 hours,” said Schaad. “Out of nowhere I hook onto this big ol’ fish and I think it’s a brown trout. It took maybe 20 minutes to get it where I could  see it. When I got it up to the bank and in the net and saw what it was  I was all excited, jumping up and down.”

Schaad broke the state record that had been in place for 11 years, previously set in May 2012. In fact, he’s one of the only people to break a trout state record in a while. The previous tiger trout in 2012 and splake in 2011 are the only trout state records to have been broken in the 21st century. These two hybrid species are relatively new in Wyoming. Prior to 2011, the most recent trout state record added to the books occurred in 1995 when a 50 pound lake trout was landed at Flaming Gorge Reservoir, which tied a state record from 1983.

“Fish need remarkable conditions to grow that big. As people catch those fish it becomes less likely another fish with those conditions will be caught again any time soon,” said Mark Smith, Game and Fish assistant fisheries management coordinator. “Popular sport fish records tend to become stagnant over time due to the unusual environmental conditions that are required to produce exceptional sized fish.”

Schaad brought the fish home and called the local game warden before taking it to a grocery store — one of two places nearby with a certified scale. The official scale weight was 11.93 pounds. The length was 31 inches with a girth of 16.5 inches.

“It was probably the most exciting day of my life,” Schaad said.

Schaad has felt the pressure from others to share what he caught his record-breaking trout with, but he’s remaining tight-lipped. He said he used “a big rod with heavy line.”

“I went fishing that night and I didn’t catch a single fish. So it definitely was just a fluke. I was in the same spot, too, and I didn’t even see one. That day was just special I guess, just meant to be,” Schaad said.

“Congratulations to Owen on his great catch and impressive fish,” Smith said. “Owen is not the first angler to break a state record this year, and hopefully he won’t be the last.”

Earlier this year the state records were broken for both longnose and white sucker — one Riverton angler caught both along the same stretch of the Wind River.

More information is available online about state fish records in Wyoming.

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