An angler made Arkansas fishing history when he caught a massive cutthroat trout that broke the long-standing state record.
Mike Bowers of Abilene, Kansas, has taken annual trips to the trout streams of Arkansas for years. He's done pretty well for himself, catching a number of enviable fish.
Last month Bowers had perhaps his most memorable trip when he caught the new Arkansas state record cutthroat trout.
Fishing the Norfork Tailwaters at Gene's Trout Fishing Resort, Bowers caught a cutthroat that beat the nearly 33-year state record. His fish weighed 10 pounds, 2 ounces, and had a 26 inch length and a 19 inch girth. The previous Arkansas record cutthroat trout was caught in 1985 and weighed 9 pounds, 9 ounces.
When Bowers brought the big fish in to the dock at Gene's Resort it also attracted a number of interested onlookers.
"Several of them said, 'That's a new state record.' Those guys all started taking pictures and I didn't know a one of them," Bowers said. "Guys were coming down to the dock from out of their cabins or floating over there to see it."
Bowers said that the fish was old and weak. He admitted that it didn't put up much of a fight.
"To be honest, it didn't fight real hard," he said. "It was a much older fish, the biologist said, and it was docile. We drifted downstream with it naturally, had the drag out about 70-80 percent, I'd feel the drag and I'd pull it back in."
He knew it might break the record
Bowers knew he had a potential record breaker so he took the fish to an Arkansas Game and Fish Commission office where Christy Graham, an AGFC trout management program supervisor, officially certified the trout's weight.
Graham also identified the fish as one that the AGFC had stocked as late as ten years prior.
"It was missing an adipose fin, which is a sign of a fish we stocked," she said. "It's great to see that fish we stocked as recently as 7-10 years ago have reached state-record size. We've heard lots of reports from anglers about big (20-plus inches) cutthroat trout being caught on Norfork Tailwater, and this new record confirms that it is an exceptional fishery."
Bowers will have the fish mounted, along with two additional replica mounts made. One of the replicas will hang in the Game and Fish corporate office in Little Rock, and the other will go to Gene's Resort.
Bowers also indicated that he is a proponent of catch and release. He says he would have released the fish had it not become overly stressed during the fight.
Interestingly, Graham also declared that the Norfork Tailwaters has also produced Arkansas state records for all four species of trout (rainbow, brown, cutthroat and brook).