Arizona has a new tiger trout record. Angler Bryan Morgan netted the 5-pound, 11.8-ounce trophy while fishing in Woods Canyon Lake, about two hours northeast of Phoenix. It bested the previous tiger trout record by roughly two pounds.

Morgan landed the big trout using 6-pound test line on an ultralight spinning combo while fishing from a boat in 15-feet of partially-frozen water on December 10, 2022. The record has since been certified by the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD).

“Everybody was cold. It was time to go, and I said: ‘Hey, guys let’s take the boat out for one more spin,” Morgan told F&S. “My kids wanted to stay by the fire on shore, so I just trolled along the shoreline while the sun was going down, trying to keep the spinner in the sun the whole time. When the fish hit, I thought I’d hooked into a sunken log.”

Woods Canyon Lake, which covers 55 acres and reaches a depth of 40 feet, is one of a series of narrow canyon-bound lakes located on the Mogollon Rim—collectively known as the Rim Lakes. It is stocked regularly with rainbow and tiger trout and has large holdover browns from past stockings. 

Morgan said he fought the lunker tiger trout for upwards of 20 minutes before finally bringing it to the side of the boat with one hand and netting it with the other. “Since I was by myself, and I didn’t have a net man, I knew I needed to wear him out before bringing him up,” he said. “A couple of times while I was fighting him with that ultralight rod, I thought, Oh man, this rod is gonna snap on me.” 

Morgan was impressed by the sheer size of trout but had no inkling of its record-breaking potential until he got it back to the shore. He took the trout home, weighed it, and measured its length and girth. Then he consulted the AZDFG record books.  “I realized it was more than two pounds bigger than the current record,” he said. “It measured about 5 or 6 inches longer than that record fish as well. I was pretty shocked.”

Two days after pulling the record trout from Woods Canyon Lake, Morgan had his record confirmed and verified by Statewide Sportfish Program Manager Andy Clark. “I’ve been fishing in that lake for over 30 years,” he said. “Getting a state record fish—while both of my boys were there—that’s gonna be hard to beat.”

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Tiger trout are relatively new to the Grand Canyon State, having first been stocked there in 2016. The sterile hybrids are a cross between a female brown trout and a male brook trout. Their colorings and patterns can range widely between those of their two parent species. The fish are known for foraging aggressively in clear, shallow water. They prefer to feed on worms, aquatic insects, crayfish, and other fish.

The previous record tiger trout in Arizona weighed 3 pounds, 15 ounces and measured 18.75 inches long. It was caught in May 2020 by Anthony Lerma at the Morton Tank Reservoir, just 50 miles northwest of Woods Canyon Lake. Cathy Clegg caught the world record tiger trout in Washington state’s Loon Lake back in August 2022.