COTTER, Ark. (Arkansas Game and Fish Commission) — Arkansas’s famed trout tailwaters are home to some of the largest trout in the world, including the 40 pound, 4 ounce brown trout caught by Rip Collins in 1992 that held the world record spot for 17 years (and still holds the world record for 4-lb.-test fishing line). Now the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission will allow state record submissions for another trout species, this time for tiger trout.
Tiger trout are a cross between brown trout and brook trout that are capable of growing much larger than their brook trout lineage. While an occasional tiger trout has been seen in the Greers Ferry Tailwater from natural reproduction of these two species, the AGFC has stocked small batches of the hybrid in the White River below Bull Shoals Dam since 2020.
“We stocked 2,650 of these trout in 2020 and 1,840 in 2021,” Christy Graham, AGFC Trout Program coordinator, said. “We recognize state records for other hybrid species we stock like hybrid striped bass and saugeye, so we want to make sure our anglers know that this species is available for a state record as well.”
Graham says tiger trout must be at least 24 inches long to keep, which would be required to take the fish to certified scales for verification. Tiger trout exhibit a trait called “hybrid vigor” which enables them to grow at a faster rate than either of their two parent species, so the 10- to 12-inch trout stocked three years ago may be nearing the top of that protected length soon.
“The trout we stocked are not capable of reproducing, and they don’t expend energy trying to produce offspring,” Graham said. “That energy is instead used for growth.
“We have already seen images of some anglers with fish longer than 24 inches, which is really amazing.”
Graham says the fish swimming in Arkansas waters right now aren’t the only opportunities anglers will have to catch tiger trout in the future, either.
“Those stockings were very popular with our anglers,” Graham said. “We made arrangements to get more tiger trout eggs at the newly renovated (Jim Hinkle) Spring River State Fish Hatchery this winter. We hope to stock fish from those eggs some time in late 2024 or early 2025.”
Graham says the conservation ethic of many anglers fishing the White River may preclude some anglers from turning in a possible state-record catch, and she understands that dilemma.
“The people who have sent in images of these big trout are very catch-and-release minded, and fish caught in any catch-and-release areas still must be legally released,” Graham said. “But some people do harvest fish where it is legal and occasionally a large trout cannot be revived after a lengthy fight in non-catch-and-release waters. In those cases, we want to make sure anglers are aware that these hybrids are eligible for state record status.”
Fish submitted for state records must be caught by hook and line using a rod or pole. They also must be weighed on a certified scale and the species must be verified by a professional with the AGFC or U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Visit www.agfc.com/en/fishing/state-records for submission requirements and a list of certified scales by county.