Man Breaks Colorado Record Hooking Giant Fish at 11,130 Feet of Elevation

by Megan Molseed
(Getty Images/ SimonSkafar)

One Colorado fisherman broke a record that once stood for an impressive 75 years after he reeled in a massive brook trout just last month. On October 8, Matt Smiley traveled as much as 11,130 feet above elevation to hit the waters during a fishing trip. This trip ended up being an experience that put Smiley on the books, too. After he broke the record for heaviest brook trout caught in the state. The fisherman broke this record after pulling in a brook trout that measures 26.25 inches long. The brook trout was 16 inches, per Out There Colorado. It also came in weighing an impressive eight pounds, nine ounces.

The longest-standing brook trout record in the state came all the way back in 1947. This record was set when a fisherman caught a 7.63-pound brook thought from Colorado’s Upper Cataract Lake in Summit County. However, Smiley wasn’t the first angler to take this record down with a Colorado fish catch. This most recent brook trout catch was the third to break the 1947 record in 2022.

The Impressive Colorado Fish Wasn’t An Easy Catch For The Fisherman

This record-breaking brook trout was caught at a lake located just east of Lake City. This body of water sits at about 11,130 feet above elevation. This, of course, made even getting to the lake quite impressive. Matt Smiley hiked along a steep trail that stretches nearly 4 miles long. The trail also boasts a 2,400-foot gain.

Smiley recalls bringing his record-setting fish to shore noting that it was quite a battle reeling the brook trout in. According to the fisherman, he fought the massive brook trout for some time pulling it toward the shore. And then, just as the angler was wrestling the catch into the net, the trout escaped. Thankfully, the fish was still hooked, so Smiley still had it in his grasp. However, this escape meant the fisherman would start the battle of reeling the fish in all over again.

Smiley’s Impressive Catch Has Been Officially Declared The New Record-Holder

Once the fisherman pulled the fish onto land, he trekked down the trailhead, headed to the local post office hoping to weigh the fish. Colorado Parks and Wildlife biologist Dan Brauch later inspected the brook trout officially declaring it to be the latest record holder.

“I’ve let some really big ones go, and then you see them later and age has not been kind to them,” Smiley says of what prompted him to keep the massive brook trout. Smiley notes that he sees these fish regress, going the “other way” since they “aren’t getting the nutrients they need to maintain that size.”

“This one, it was in peak condition,” the fisherman says of the trout. “And I made the decision to give that fish the recognition it deserves.”