Kansas Angler Catches Monster Brown Trout on White River

Kansas Angler Catches Monster Brown Trout on White River
Calvin Johnston of Olathe, Kansas, set the mark pretty high for his first Arkansas trout-fishing trip. On Friday, February 27, Johnston landed a brown trout weighing 38 lbs. 7 oz. on the White River. (Photo courtesy of Arkansas Game and Fish Commission)

COTTER, Ark. – Arkansas’s trout tailwaters are famous for incredible scenery, fast action and some of the biggest brown trout in the world – just ask Kansas angler Calvin Johnston.

Johnston, a resident of Olathe, Kansas, was enjoying his first trout-fishing trip to The Natural State Friday, February 27, when he hooked into a fish that will have people up and down the White River talking for years.

“I’m a bass angler,” Johnston said. “But we have a few ponds in Kansas that are stocked with some small rainbow trout. I’ve gone to one of them a couple of times and maybe caught five or six rainbows, but this was my first real trout fishing trip and my first brown trout ever.”

Johnston grew up in Little Rock and graduated J.A. Fair High School before moving to Kansas. He says his brother and brother’s friends from the Bryant Police Department always go to Rainbow Drive Resort on the White River for a trout trip during this time of year. This year he decided to join them to see what the trout fishing was like.

“I used the same rod and setup that I use to drop-shot fish for bass,” Johnston said. “A medium-light six-foot, nine-inch spinning rod with 15-pound-test braid tied to a 10-pound-test fluorocarbon leader.”

When the group arrived, the current was flowing too heavily to wade more than a few feet from shore, and the cold weather had most of the party taking a break to warm up Friday afternoon.

“It was getting to be sundown, and I know that’s always a great time to fish for bass,” Johnston said. “So I headed down to the bank to cast a little. I didn’t even have any waders or a net and just cast from the bank. That’s when she hit.”

Johnston says nearly all the line peeled off the reel on the fish’s first run.

“I’ve never fought a fish like that before,” Johnston said. “She was running around rocks and grass and there were several times I thought I’d lose her. It felt like I fought this fish for 20 minutes.”

Without a net to land the fish or even waders to go in after it, Johnston was stuck. “I started to yell for anyone to help,” he said. “One man finally asked what was going on. When he saw the fish roll at the surface, he ran to get a net. He said he’s been fishing there since he was seven years old and had never seen a fish like that in his life.”

After a few tries, the pair finally managed to get the trout’s head in the net and pull her to shore.

“Everyone started to come out of their cabins to see the fish,” Johnston said. “One man brought out a handheld Rapala scale, and the fish measured 40 pounds on it. That’s when I knew I needed to call the Game and Fish and get this thing weighed officially.”

AGFC Trout Management Program Coordinator Christy Graham and District Fisheries Biologist Jeremy Risley met Johnston to weigh the fish on certified scales at the Mountain Home Field Office.

“It’s official weight and length was 38 pounds, 7 ounces, and it was 36.6 inches long,” Graham said. “I’ve looked into former records for brown trout in Arkansas, and can only find official records of two brown trout being larger –Rip Collins’ former world-record from the Little Red River that weighed 40 pounds, 4 ounces and the previous world-record fish from the Norfork Tailwater that weighed 38 pounds, 9 ounces.

“This is the biggest brown ever recorded for the White River,” Graham said. “We are extremely pleased by Mr. Johnston’s catch. The White and North Fork Rivers have always been known as world-class trout fisheries and this is just further evidence that anglers still have the opportunity to catch trophy fish.”

Recommended for You


State Records Reported in Maryland, Michigan

G&F Online Staff - May 23, 2019

It must be time for summer fishing because records are falling everywhere.

Fishing How-To

Your Guide for the Best Catfish Baits

G&F Staff

If you've been catching catfish with the same method for years, it's time to change it up and...

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

MLF Pros: What's Your Go-To Lure?

When all else fails, here's what these pros tie on.

New Abu Garcia Baitcasting Reels

In the booth of one of fishing's all-time great reel makers, Outdoor Sportsman Group writer Lynn Burkhead and Andrew Wheeler of Pure Fishing discuss one of the brand new baitcasting reels from Abu Garcia being released at ICAST 2019.

Abu Garcia Virtual Rod with Bluetooth

Pure Fishing's Andrew Wheeler tells Outdoor Sportsman Group writer Lynn Burkhead all about the brand new Abu Garcia Virtual rod that integrates Bluetooth technology through a free ANGLR smartphone app.

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories

Other Freshwater

6 Tips for Nighttime Crappie

Keith Sutton - June 19, 2017

Fishing for nighttime crappie gets you out of the summer heat and puts more fish in the...


5 Ways To Catch Catfish on Lures

Keith Sutton - September 16, 2015

As most catfish anglers know, blue cats, channel cats and flatheads will eat darn near...


Upon Further Review: 70-Year-Old Catfish Record Voided

G&F Online Staff - May 22, 2019

Experts agree record channel cat caught in 1949 was actually a blue catfish.

See More Stories

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction


Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services


GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.