Brooke Wheeler Catches Trophy Rainbow Trout on Lake Lanier

Brooke Wheeler of Snellville and her fishing buddy, Landon Crafton, were casting underspin lures along the banks of lower Lake Lanier on Saturday, March 2, when her line hesitated slightly. She instinctively set the hook and the fight was on! As the rod doubled over and the reel drag sang, they knew it was a big fish. After a ten-minute fight that included a dance around the trolling motor to free the thin, ten-pound test line, the quarry finally came to the net. It was a trophy rainbow trout!

Brooke and Landon brought her awesome catch to the WRD Gainesville Regional Office on March 4th to have the fish certified by WRD biologists for a Georgia Angler Award. The hook-jawed male stretched the tape to 28 ½ inches and pulled the arrow of the certified scale down to the 9 pounds, 6 ounce mark. That’s certainly a trophy anywhere, and especially in north Georgia!

Brooke Wheeler holds Lake Lanier Rainbow Trout
Brooke Wheeler holds the 9.6 pound Rainbow Trout she caught on Lake Lanier.

Biologists believe this trophy rainbow trout “relocated” to Lake Lanier as a result of winter’s high water. WRD discontinued trout stocking in Lake Lanier around 1990 as the lake naturally aged and summer oxygen levels declined. But, a few trout are still caught each year by anglers. Those fish are usually escapees from striper anglers’ hooks, or downstream migrants from Lanier’s tributaries — all designated trout waters high in the mountains. With this winter’s rains, this big fish likely took a whitewater ride down the Hooch or Chestatee and finally landed in the calmer waters of Lake Lanier. That is, until he met our young angling expert, Brooke!

Angler Award Program

Do you know about our Angler Award program? The Georgia Angler Award Program recognizes anglers in Georgia who catch exceptional fish in Georgia waters. It also allows DNR to collect information on the genetics, age, growth, and habitats of big fish to help manage our fisheries to their greatest potential.

Go fish Georgia soon. Maybe you’ll find a trophy, too. Check out last week’s fishing report before you hit the water: 3/1/19 Fishing Report.