The world record golden trout stands at 11 lb 0 oz. It was caught by Chas Reed using conventional tackle in Cooks Lake, Wyoming, USA.
Cook Lake is featured in the map below and you will find it in the mountains of northern Wyoming. It hasn’t produced any other records apart from the world record golden trout caught there in August of 1948.
Usually, we would flow into the story of how this world record for golden trout was caught. But, since there is very little information about the catch as it was caught way back in 1948 we don’t have any more details.
About Golden Trout
Golden trout, also referred to as Kern River trout are only native to the Upper Kern River basin in both Kern and Tulare Counties of California.
They are often called California golden trout and are the state fish of California too. If you want to go fly fishing California for golden trout then you will need to go up into the southern mountains of Sierra Nevada in California.
Golden trout only live at elevations of 2,100 meters or 6,890 feet above sea level as they prefer cold, clear water that the high mountain elevation provides.
Even though golden trout have a very small native range there are two subspecies of golden trout. One of the subspecies of golden trout is confined to the south fork Kern River and the Golden Trout Creek.
The other subspecies stay in the Main Kern and Little Kern Rivers. There is an area of warm water where the South Fork Kern River enters the main Kern River which acts as a natural barrier that stops them from mixing.
Of course, golden trout native to California, have been moved to places where they are not native, like all trout. These areas include Wyoming, Washington, and Idaho where you can now find self-sustaining populations of golden trout that are thought to have mated with cutthroat trout.
Golden trout do not grow big often and their average size is around 1 pound. When you consider the record for the species is 11 pounds, you can only imagine just how much of a fishing accomplishment the world record for golden trout is.
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Where Else Have World Records of Golden Trout Been Caught?
Wind River Mountains, Wyoming, USA
On 08-Jul-2021, Caroline May Evans, a four-year-old girl, set the International Game Fish Association, IGFA female smallfry record under IGFA international angling rules.
The IGFA female smallfry record is one of the new separate smallfry categories and the angler has to be a small fry of 10 years and under to potentially set a record in its class.
Caroline May Evans was fishing in an unnamed lake in Wyoming when she hooked into a two-pound golden trout. After a quick fight and weighing, Caroline May Evans was able to safely release the fish, a 2-pound golden trout to set a new record for the species.
Catching a 2-pound golden trout at this girls’ age is an amazing achievement and to manage a quick fight and weighing plus being able to safely release the fish is an awesome testament to conservation too.
Golden Lake, Wyoming, USA
This lake in Wyoming is responsible for more world-record golden trout than any other place on the planet. If you want to catch golden trout, and maybe potentially set a record, you have a better shot here than in Golden Trout Creek in California.
Of the 13 world records standing for golden trout, 8 of them were caught in this lake. It is thought by Wyoming Game and Fish that the reason these fish get so big is that there is a load of small crustaceans in the lake that help them grow so big.
The all-tackle length record golden trout caught on a fly rod came out of this Wyoming lake and it measured an amazing 53 cm. It was caught by Rick Mickelsen on 22-Jun-2012.
Another excellent record that came out of this lake is the 2 lb class tippet record on the fly that was caught by Bob Shettel in 1989. The fish weighed an amazing 5 pounds which beats the majority of the all-tackle records for golden trout too.
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Sierra Nevada Mountains, California, USA
One of the International Game Fish Association’s best records for golden trout in my eyes is the one caught out of the fish’s native range in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
Brandon Parker was fishing with conventional tackle and 8 lb line when he hooked and landed the 6-pound golden trout to set the new 8lb line class world record. Considering the fish in California barely go over two pounds, catching a six-pound fish is pretty amazing.
How Do I Catch Golden Trout?
Golden trout are very similar to the other species of trout like brown trout, and brook trout. These game fish eat whatever is in the lake and river just like normal trout and will go after aquatic insects, flying insects, worms, leeches, and lots more.
You can fly fish for them using the usual tactics of drifting nymphs, dry flies, wet flies, and streamers. If you are fishing in the mountains of California then you should use small flies to catch these fish as the flies at that elevation tend to be small.
If you head to the lakes of Wyoming where many of the world records have been set then using a sinking like and streamers is a good idea, as is fishing with scuds that are similar to small crustaceans.
Golden trout are a stunning trout species that are stunning to look at and one that every fly angler wants to check off their bucket list.
If it was me, I would be going straight to the Sierra Nevada mountains and hiking into the small streams of Volcano Creek and such to catch the native fish in their true habitat. Rather than catching a golden/cutthroat cross in Wyoming.