16 Year Old Shatters West Virginia Tiger Trout State Record

nata smith trout
Nathan Smith

Just 16 years old and already he’s got the fish of his lifetime.

Last Saturday, Nathan Smith and his buddy were fishing New Creek Dam Site #14 when Smith spotted what looked like a monster brownie close to the shore around 7:30am.

He got it to strike, but it dropped the lure, though Smith was not about to give up that easily.

He cast a second time. Nothing. Then he cast a third and final time in the direction it was swimming and this time it hit hard and the hook stayed put.

Speaking to Outdoor Life, he recalled the moment that would wind up going down in the record books.

“I just felt weight on my line a few seconds after I made my third cast with the Gulp minnow. I set the hook, and the trout didn’t fight much for a few minutes. It never jumped, but it was strong. It took about six minutes to get it close to shore.”

What looked like a monster only grew larger as he got it to the bank and his buddy tried to net it. Scooping the entire fish was no option, but they were eventually able to get the front end into the net and bring it on shore.

Smith took a bunch of pictures and then kept on fishing, still thinking it was a large brown trout, since he believed tiger trout only grew to around 5 or 6 pounds. But another friend of his was in the area and when he saw what Smith had reeled in, convinced him to take it to the nearby West Virginia Department of Natural Resources office in Romney to get officially measured.

A biologist confirmed it was a tiger trout and got to measuring. The trout was 26.75 inches long and weighed in at 11.98 pounds, over 1.5 pounds heavier than the previous state record.

Smith confirmed that he was going to have a replica mount created but ensured that the fish wasn’t going to waste.

Writing this story has me itching to get out on the water, but before that I need to restock the old tackle box at Tackle Warehouse. They’ve got baits for whichever technique you prefer and a selection of rods and reels to fit all your needs.

While tiger trout can occur naturally, the cross between brown and brook trout usually happens at hatcheries. New Creek Dam Site #14 does receive annual stockings of tigers, the most recent occurring on February 20th of this year, though there’s no details on what species were released into the water.

Big shoutout to Nathan. Most anglers, even the hardcore ones, go their entire lives without so much as seeing a fish of this size and he’s already got his name in the record books at just 16 years old.

It doesn’t get much better than that.

* This post contains links from our Affiliate Partners program. If you use these links to make a purchase, we may earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock