It may have taken 75 years, but Colorado’s brook trout record was finally, definitively, officially, broken. But then a funny thing happened. It was broken again… in the same year. Colorado Parks and Wildlife just announced that it certified yet another state record for brook trout.
The Colorado State Record For Brook Trout Was Just Broken For A Second Time This Year
The First 2022 Record Was Set In May
The already-notorious feat was accomplished by Matt Smiley – who, true to his name, was nothing but smiles after catching his whopping 26.25-inch-long prize. Smiley, who caught the brookie in Waterdog Lake in Hinsdale County, also discovered that his record-breaking fish had an enormous 16-inch girth. Finally, the trout weighed 8 pounds, 9 ounces, which easily busted the earlier record set by Tim Daniel in May of last year.
Tim Daniel’s original record in May was impressive, of course: In fact, his brookie measured in at 7.84 pounds and 23.25 inches, with a 15.375-inch girth – all of which beat out a fish caught in 1947.
Smiley Had Been Working At This For Years
Smiley’s latest record-busting accomplishment was the result of a years-long effort. And it certainly didn’t come easily: Waterdog Lake is only accessible from a 3.9-mile hike; moreover, it has an elevation gain of 2,400 feet. Considering all this, Smiley was actually about to give up for the day when his monster fish finally bit.
"When it surfaced and I could see it, all I could think was 'Wow.'" Smiley said in a press release. "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."
This Brookie Just Wouldn't Give Up
The actual act of catching the trout wasn’t very simple, either. In one moment, the fish flopped out of the landing net, despite somehow staying hooked. However, Smiley nailed the landing and caught the trout after a second attempt with the landing net. Then, finally, Smiley had to decide what to do with the fish, which would certainly not survive a 4-mile hike back to the nearest town.
"The toughest thing for me with this whole deal was deciding to keep the fish," Smiley said. "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."
In The End, The Answer Was Obvious
Ultimately, Smiley decided that the opportunity was too good to pass up and settled on taking the hike. He took the brookie straight to the certified scale at Lake City Post Office and eventually claimed his title as reigning brook trout champ.