Joshua Giordano was fishing a swimbait in the Thermalito Diversion Pool of the Feather River, below the Oroville Dam, in Northern California, on December 7, when he felt a strike on his first cast. He couldn’t connect on the fish but had a good idea something big had hit his lure, which he says had teeth marks on it when he brought it in. Giordano tied on a fresh swimbait beneath a slip bobber and cast it back out. The bobber jerked on the retrieve.

“When I hooked this fish I knew immediately how giant it was when it peeled off 150 yards of line in about 20 seconds. I have never seen the power of a fish like it,” Giordano told The Record, noting that the fish jumped and tail-walked across the surface of the water during the fight, which went back and forth for over an hour. “I was about to land him when he decided to do another hundred-yard run and the battle was on again. In an hour and 10 heart-stopping minutes, I was able to get my two hands on his tail.”

The rainbow trout was absolutely giant. Giordano measured its length at 41 inches, with a girth of 27 inches. Based on those measurements, Giordano estimated that it weighed around 38.2 pounds. The fish had the potential to smash the California inland state record rainbow trout record, which was  37.5 inches long, with a girth of 26 inches in girth and weighed 27 pounds. But after Giordano snapped a couple of pictures of his catch, he released the fish, so it won’t qualify for a state record. But it’s still one of the largest rainbow trout ever caught, not just in California, but worldwide. The fish stands to top the IGFA world record all-tackle length record, which is a 37-inch fish, should Giordano submit it for consideration. 

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Giordano says he’s caught and released several other trophy fish in the Thermalito Diversion Pool in recent years. The tailwater holds large rainbow and brown trout that feast on Japanese pond smelt, as well as other baitfish and bugs. Giordano was using a 10-foot, 6-inch Okuma rod with a Pflueger President spinning reel spooled with 20-pound PowerPro braid and a 15-pound fluorocarbon Sunline leader.

“[Catching the fish] was one of the most amazing moments in my life,”  Giordano wrote in a Facebook post. “[I was] so great full [sic] to have met this amazing fish. The legend lives on.”