Discover The Largest Brown Trout Ever Caught in North Carolina

Written by Kyle Glatz
Updated: November 14, 2023
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North Carolina is a great place to fish in the United States. The state has a ton of lakes, and it has a coastline along the Atlantic Ocean. So, anglers get to catch freshwater and saltwater fish in the state’s waters. One of the species that people love catching in North Carolina is brown trout. Today, we’re going to look at the largest brown trout ever caught in North Carolina. Get ready to find out just how big it was, where it was caught, and how it stacks up to the all-time record for the species!

Overview of Largest Brown Trout Caught in North Carolina

About Brown Trout

The brown trout (Salmo trutta) is a non-native fish species that was brought to North America from Europe. These fish reach an average weight of between 1 and 7 pounds, and they grow between 7 and 14 inches long on average. Exceptionally large brown trout reach sizes over 20 inches long.

The fish have a unique coloration which makes them easier to identify. Specifically, they have an olive-to-brown coloration on their dorsal side, yellow sides, and a white belly. These fish also have a lot of spots covering their back, sides, and dorsal fins most of the time. The spots can range in color.

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Brown trout

The largest brown trout ever caught in North Carolina weighed 24 pounds and 10 ounces.

©iStock.com/Ruth Peterkin

While the spots on the fish’s dorsal fins are usually dark brown or even black, the spots on the fish’s sides can be a dark color like black or brown. They may also be orange or red. Sometimes, these spots are surrounded by a lighter color, like white or blue. The reason that these fish have spots of varying colors is because of their mixed ancestry as they came from Europe.  

People like to catch these fish because they can get rather large and they still put up a good fight when they get on the hook. Moreover, brown trout can be picky eaters, so finding the right bait is a challenge all its own. Also, some people enjoy eating these fish. However, the species is known for having a potent flavor that not everyone likes.

The Brown Trout’s Habitat and Diet

Brown trout can thrive in many different environments such as rivers, ponds, and lakes. They prefer cold, well-oxygenated water. They will often live in places with some sort of cover in their habitat, like vegetation or fallen logs.

In these habitats, they will usually eat small invertebrates, fish eggs, plankton, and smaller fish. They are opportunistic feeders. Although that makes these fish sound like they’ll go for any bait an angler drops in the water, that is not always true. Instead, they can become very picky if they have a lot of available food in their area.  

What Is the Largest Brown Trout Ever Caught in North Carolina?

Brown Trout

Brown trout can grow much larger than their average size.

©iStock.com/KevinCass

The largest brown trout ever caught in North Carolina weighed 24 pounds and 10 ounces. An angler named Robert Lee Dyer from Sylva, North Carolina captured the fish on April 17, 1998. He was fishing on the Nantahala River, and he used a #11 Rapala fishing lure to capture the fish.

The previous record for the state was about 9 pounds lighter, meaning that Dyer smashed the former record by quite a bit.        

Where Is the Nantahala River?       

The Nantahala River is a small river in the western reaches of North Carolina. This river only measures about 48 miles long. This river is somewhat remote, and it is near several other small waterways like Kimsey Creek and Curtis Creek.

The river runs near U.S. Highway 64, also called Murphy Road in the state, as the body of water winds through Macon County, North Carolina.

The Nantahala River is well-known for its whitewater rapids and fishing. In fact, the river is said to be among the best places to fish for trout on the East Coast. Although the river is not as readily accessible as others, the waters still serve as a great place to go fishing.  

Other Fish Anglers Can Catch in Nantahala River

The Nantahala River is famous for its trout population. Few other rivers in the region contain trout as large as those that come from the Nantahala River. Still, like other rivers, the river holds several species of fish that people can catch.

Some of the other fish species that live in the Nantahala River include:

These are some of the most popular fish that people take from the river each year. Although the river has some large fish swimming in it, no other record-setting species have been captured in this river.

Is the Largest Brown Trout in North Carolina the Biggest Ever Caught?

Sea Trout

The record fish from North Carolina was about 20 pounds lighter than the all-time record.

©iStock.com/DanBachKristensen

No, the largest brown trout ever caught in North Carolina is not the largest one ever caught. Instead, that honor belongs to a fish that weighed 44 pounds 5 ounces, a brown trout that was caught in Ohau Canal in New Zealand.

The massive fish measured 38.58 inches and had a total girth measuring 34 inches. This trout is about 20 pounds heavier than the brown trout in North Carolina.

Seumas Petrie is the name of the angler that caught the fish. He reeled in the world’s largest brown trout on October 27, 2020. Not only is the fish much bigger than the specimen from the United States, but the record was set more recently.

The heaviest brown trout caught in North Carolina was a large member of the species. These fish usually do not get that large. Fortunately, the qualities of the river in that part of the state made it possible for the brown trout to grow large and healthy. The river is a renowned place to catch brown trout species, so it would not be surprising to see a record-breaking fish emerge from these waters in the future.  

The photo featured at the top of this post is © CSNafzger/Shutterstock.com


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About the Author

Kyle Glatz is a writer at A-Z-Animals where his primary focus is on geography and mammals. Kyle has been writing for researching and writing about animals and numerous other topics for 10 years, and he holds a Bachelor's Degree in English and Education from Rowan University. A resident of New Jersey, Kyle enjoys reading, writing, and playing video games.

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