Prepare to be astounded by the giants that dwell beneath the surface—the world’s largest trout. Rarely caught by rod and line, these majestic creatures often meet their fate in commercial nets or are found dead, drifting lifeless on the water’s surface. From the record-breaking 102lb Lake trout of Lake Athabasca, Canada, to the awe-inspiring 75lb brown trout of Austria’s Lake Attersee in 1938, their stories echo with intrigue.
So, what exactly defines the world’s largest trout and how extraordinary can their size be? At first glance, finding the answer may seem as simple as consulting the IGFA records. However, it’s not quite that straightforward since the truly massive trout often elude capture on rod and reel. So they do not qualify for such a record.
While many of the largest line-caught brown, rainbow, and brook trout have been well-documented (refer to the chart below), they represent only a fraction of the largest trout ever recorded
In this compelling article, we embark on a quest to attempt to answer the age-old question: What truly constitutes the world’s largest trout? Join us as we delve into the depths of this captivating mystery.
What counts as a trout?
Before diving into the quest for the world’s largest trout, it’s essential to establish a clear definition of what constitutes a trout.
One common query that arises is whether steelhead trout should be included. The answer is yes, as steelhead are simply the sea-dwelling form of rainbow trout. Interestingly, the record for rainbow trout surpasses that of steelhead, making the distinction less complicated.
Another point of contention revolves around lake trout. Some argue that they are technically a char and not a trout. However, if we were to follow this line of reasoning, we would need to exclude rainbow trout since they are more closely related to Pacific salmon. In truth, trout and char belong to the same group of fish, making them quite similar.
Therefore, in the pursuit of the world’s largest trout, we will encompass rainbow trout, lake trout (despite the char debate), and even other trout-like species.
My standpoint is that if a fish from the Salmonidae family bears “trout” in its common name, it should be considered. Moreover, genetically speaking, a lake trout shares as much in common with a brown trout as a rainbow trout does. After all, “char” is just a name.
By setting this framework, we can delve deeper into the captivating realm of the world’s largest trout and uncover their awe-inspiring secrets.
World’s largest trout
|World Record (IGFA)
|72 lb 0 oz
|83 lb (net)
102 lb 4 oz (net)
|48 lb 0 oz
|44 lb 5 oz
|14 lb 8oz
|54 lb 13 oz**
** The current IGFA record for marble trout is for a 22.5kg (49.6lb) fish caught in Slovenia. Although a couple of larger fish have been reported from Montenegro, they are difficult to verify.
Marble trout (Runner up for world’s largest trout)
Marble Trout, a close relative of brown trout, holds a remarkable position as the runner-up for the world’s largest trout. The current IGFA world record for marble trout stands at an impressive 49.6lb (22.5kg), captured in Slovenia. However, there are intriguing, albeit unverified, reports of these giants weighing up to 70lb, caught using alternative fishing methods such as netting.
Geographically confined to Northern Italy and the Balkans, Marble Trout (Salmo marmoratus) thrive in the pristine waters of crystal-clear rivers, often seeking refuge beneath the protective cover of boulders. One such legendary catch occurred in the Soca River near Tolmino, Slovenia. A magnificent white rabbit fur streamer lured the world record marble trout from a pool. Remarkably, the captured specimen was merely 10 years old, hinting at its potential for even more extraordinary growth.
While a few reports suggest larger marble trout in Montenegro, their verification remains challenging. Additionally, a reader shared an intriguing comment about marble trout weighing up to 24.5kg (54lb) caught in the Neretva River of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Brown Trout – Unveiling the Giants of Austrian Lakes and Beyond
The waters of Austrian and German alpine lakes hold multiple accounts of massive resident brown trout, known as Seeforelle in German, dating back to the pre-1950s era. Among these legends, one remarkable catch stands out—the largest documented with photographic evidence. In 1938, a net capture from Lake Attersee, Austria unveiled a colossal brown trout, weighing an astonishing 34kg, just under 75lb.
Unfortunately, the fate of these magnificent German brown lake trout (Salmo trutta lacustris) is tinged with tragedy. The caretakers of these lakes, known as fish masters, viewed the large trout as pests rather than trophies. Fearing that they were preying upon smaller, more desirable trout, they began netting them during the spawning runs—the only time these giants left the protective depths of the lakes. As a result, the monstrous brown trout of old are but distant memories, with current catches nowhere near their colossal size.
Beyond the Alpine region, reports of large brown trout emerge, although verification can prove challenging. Notably, there are intriguing but difficult-to-confirm accounts of a 66lb brown trout from Albania. It is speculated that this fish may not be a typical brown trout (Salmo trutta) but instead the geographically isolated Salmo letnica, also known as the Ohrid trout. The Ohrid trout is an ancient lineage surviving in Lake Ohrid, and the largest confirmed specimen reached 17kg (37lb).
Adding to the roster of impressive catches, a photographic record showcases a 56lb brown trout recovered from Lake Lokvarsko in Croatia. This exceptional specimen was discovered when the lake was drained for maintenance. During the construction of the Lokve Dam, small resident brown trout became trapped in the newly formed reservoir. Flourishing in ideal conditions, these river trout grew to extraordinary sizes. The introduction of thousands of small rainbow trout into the lake likely provided abundant prey for these monstrous browns.
While historical claims, such as the 60lb brown trout caught from Lake Hayes, New Zealand in 1883, raise questions, it is well-known that brown trout can attain enormous sizes when released into virgin habitats with ample food sources. Presently, New Zealand is home to the IGFA world record brown trout, a remarkable 44lb 5oz specimen caught from the Tekapo canals.
Check this article for information on the largest brown trout in America.
Lake Trout – Unveiling the Giants of Great Bear Lake and Beyond
When it comes to the world’s largest trout, one species stands out—the mighty Lake Trout. Tales of colossal specimens have emerged, captivating anglers and enthusiasts alike. Among the notable claims, an extraordinary 83lb lake trout caught in a net in Canada’s Great Bear Lake leaves us in awe. Additionally, reports from 1961 recount an astonishing 102lb lake trout hauled from the depths of Lake Athabasca.
Great Bear Lake, also the site of the current IGFA world record, holds further testimony to the extraordinary size of lake trout. In 1995, a monumental catch weighing 72lb secured its place in angling history. Situated within the Arctic Circle, Great Bear Lake is the fourth largest lake in North America, boasting conditions that are nothing short of ideal for the growth of massive lake trout.
These majestic predators inhabit the cold and pristine waters, embodying power and resilience. With their streamlined bodies and voracious appetites, lake trout dominate their domain. Anglers who venture into these icy depths often find themselves engaged in an exhilarating battle of strength and skill.
What is the largest rainbow trout ever caught?
In the quest for the largest rainbow trout, remarkable tales have emerged, showcasing the incredible sizes these vibrant fish can reach. While precise details elude me at the moment, as I have temporarily misplaced my notes, rest assured that I am working to unearth the comprehensive information. Soon, this section will be updated with fascinating accounts of colossal rainbow trout.
Among the notable records, the current IGFA world record for rainbow trout stands at an awe-inspiring 48 lb 0 oz. This exceptional specimen was captured from Lake Diefenbaker in Saskatchewan. Measuring an impressive 42 inches in length with a girth of 32 inches, it exemplifies the potential for extraordinary growth within these fertile waters. It’s worth noting that the rainbow trout in Lake Diefenbaker are infertile triploids, diverting their energy from spawning and allowing them to achieve rapid growth and immense sizes.
Another renowned destination for remarkable rainbow trout is the Tekapo canals in New Zealand. These fertile rainbow trout exhibit impressive proportions, captivating anglers with their size and strength.
Cutthroat trout can also grow to impressive sizes. In 1930, a cutthroat trout weighing 41 lb (18.6 kg) was caught in Pyramid Lake, Nevada, setting the record for the Lahontan cutthroat trout.
These native trout species can be found in various freshwater habitats across North America, and while their sizes may vary depending on the region, they are known to offer exciting angling opportunities.
Other Fish which might be considered trout.
Taimen – The Enigmatic Cousins of Trout
When discussing the fascinating world of trout and salmon, an intriguing member of the Salmonidae family emerges—the formidable Taimen. With striking resemblances to trout and a host of shared characteristics, Taimen occupy a unique space within this distinguished lineage.
Taimen, commonly referred to as trout by many, possess distinct traits that align them closely with their trout relatives. Preferring freshwater habitats like their trout counterparts, Taimen exhibit a remarkable ability to thrive in these environments. Unlike trout, Taimen do not succumb to their journey after spawning, further reinforcing their affinity with trout.
One cannot ignore the striking visual similarities between Taimen and trout. From their sleek and streamlined bodies to their captivating markings, Taimen exude a trout-like appearance that captivates onlookers.
When it comes to their sheer size, Taimen continue to astonish. The heaviest authenticated Taimen on record weighed an astounding 123 lb (55.8 kg). This extraordinary catch, secured through a commercial net, showcases the immense power and size that these giants can attain. Furthermore, the current all tackle Taimen record, caught in the Tugur River, Russia, officially weighed 107 lbs (48.62 kg), yet it likely surpassed this weight as it pushed the limits of the scales.
While some unverifiable reports suggest Taimen weighing up to a staggering 231 lb, it is important to approach such claims with caution, recognizing the potential influence of tribal legends in shaping these accounts.
While the Taimen might be the most famous of the Asian trout, they are not the only one. There is also the humble Lenok, some people call them the most ancient trout. Although, they rarely reach even 10lb in weight so are certainly not in the running for the world’s largest trout title.
Caspian salmon (The salmon which was once a trout)
In the captivating world of fish taxonomy, one creature stands out as a testament to the intricacies of classification—the Caspian salmon. Once regarded as a brown trout, this remarkable fish is now considered among the ranks of salmon.
The largest recorded Caspian salmon boasts an impressive weight of 112 lb (51 kg). This colossal catch occurred in the Kura River, Azerbaijan. This certainly left anglers in awe of its sheer size and power.
Years ago I remember reading tales about the existence of large brown trout dwelling in the depths of the Soviet Union. Intrigued by these accounts, extensive research led to the revelation—the fabled giants were, in fact, the Caspian brown trout. These extraordinary trout shattered records with their immense proportions.
However, in 1967, a reclassification took place. Previously considered a subspecies of the brown trout, scientifically known as Salmo trutta ciscaucasicus, further research revealed closer genetic ties to the Atlantic salmon, leading to its reclassification as Salmo ciscaucasicus, a distinct species within the Salmonidae family.
In conclusion, the world of trout still holds a lot of mystery’s. From the largest lake trout prowling the depths of icy waters to the magnificent rainbow trout that defies expectations, these fish embody power, beauty, and the thrill of the chase.
While records and legends may spark our imagination, it’s important to approach claims with skepticism and rely on verified information. The pursuit of the world’s largest trout is a journey filled with mystery, debates, and occasional surprises. As anglers continue to explore remote rivers, pristine lakes, and hidden corners of the world, they uncover glimpses of the extraordinary fish that inhabit these waters.
I acknowledge that my research has only scratched the surface, and I am aware that relevant information regarding large trout may be concealed in foreign languages. Please feel free to share any relevant information in the comments below.