November 16, 2022
It's been the year of the brook trout in Colorado in 2022, with a once 75-year-old state record falling multiple times.
The latest came Oct. 8, when Matt Smiley caught an 8-pound, 9-ounce brute at Waterdog Lake near Lake City, Colorado Parks and Wildlife reported. The fish was 26 1/4 inches long and had a girth of 16 inches.
The trout beat the previous record set on May 23 by Tim Daniel, who caught a 7.84-pound brook trout at Monarch Lake in Grand County. That catch beat a record (7.63 pounds, Upper Cataract Lake) that was caught in 1947. It had been Colorado's longest-standing fishing record.
Another record-sized brook trout also was reported the weekend before Smiley's catch, another 8-pounder from Waterdog Lake. But the CPW, which knew of the catch, said Larry Vickers of Lake City decided to eat his 8.22-pound brook trout instead of entering it for state-record consideration.
Read More About This Record Fish
"The experience of this catch has been surreal, and it took a few days to soak in. It’s a really special fish,” Smiley said in a CPW news release. "The toughest thing for me with this whole deal was deciding to keep the fish. I've released so many over the years, but it was one of those deals where I made a quick decision and wanted to give this fish the recognition it deserves."
Smiley, who sells tackle for the company Favorite Fishing, said he was eager to get in the high country for some fall fishing. So, he hiked nearly 4 miles up the Waterdog Lake trail, an elevation gain of 2,400 feet, to the lake beneath Mesa Seco at 11,130 feet.
Catching only small fish for most of the day, Smiley said he was ready to pack up and head home, but that thought ended when he hooked up with the record.
"I’ve caught big brookies in the past around the state, but when I saw this one, it was just different. It had way more length than any of the big ones before," Smiley told the CPW.
After hiking back down, Smith took the fish to the Lake City post office to get it weighed on a certified scale. CPW aquatic biologist Dan Brauch confirmed the species and weight.
Now, the oldest fishing record in Colorado is for white bass, dating back to 1963. The oldest trout record in the state is for native cutthroat, dating back to 1964. Click to see the full list of state-record fish by weight in Colorado.