On his fourth day of fishing the famous Flaming Gorge Reservoir, Matt Smiley caught only one fish, but it was a doozy. Turns out, it was a Utah state-record lake trout in the catch-and-release category.
Smiley, who is from Colorado, told KKTV the fish weighed 52.97 pounds.
“I had been wanting to catch a fish over 50 pounds for a long, long time,” Smiley told The Denver Post. “I was pretty sure it was over 50 pounds, looking at it, but when we , I was so excited.
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“I put it back in the net and had it over the side of the boat, getting ready to let it go and my buddy in the boat with me stopped me. He was like, ‘Man, we’ve got to measure that fish, do you have a tape measure in here?’ I’m like, ‘I don’t even care, man, I broke 50 pounds, I’m good with it.’ He’s like, ‘No, that’s the longest fish I’ve ever seen, you need to measure that thing.”
And so he did. After measuring it—the lake trout stretched 48 inches—he released the fish.
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A couple days later they realized the fish qualified as a state record and so he submitted the details to the authorities. On Wednesday, the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources made it official. It was a state record.
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Had he kept the fish, it would have potentially qualified as an overall state record for lake trout. The current catch-and-keep record is 51 pounds, 8 ounces caught in 1988 by Curt Bilbey also at Flaming Gorge Reservoir.
Smiley is no stranger to records. He once held the Colorado state record for lake trout at 44 pounds, 5 ounces caught in 2003 at Blue Mesa Reservoir. It has since been broken. The current record is 50.35 pounds.
Photos courtesy of the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources.
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