Bob Geresti didn’t expect his last-minute decision to go fishing one afternoon on Lake Allatoona to result in catching a rare breed of trout.
A tiger trout—a cross between a brook and a brown trout—is a rare find in any Georgia lake, and until now one has never been documented from Lake Allatoona. The fish was confirmed to be a tiger trout by WRD Fisheries Biologist Jim Hakala.
On Feb. 1, Bob started his afternoon off by fishing off a dock at the Victoria Harbor Marina area of Lake Allatoona. He normally fishes with a friend who keeps his boat in the marina, but the friend was unable to go this day. Bob caught a few crappie before the tiger trout bit about 4 p.m.
Bob was using a firetiger minnow tube made by Southern Pro, which has been one of his favorite jigs to use lately. The jig head he used was a 1/16-oz. unpainted round head with a No. 4 Sickle red hook. Bob was using a Shakespeare GX2 reel on a Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2 rod, a combo he uses because the balance feels good.
“I hooked onto this fish, and when I got it close to the surface, it was just thrashing and jumping around. I really couldn’t see exactly what it was, but it had a little bit of gold color on the side, which made me think it was a walleye, but there are no walleye in Allatoona,” Bob said.
After wrestling with this fish and bringing it to the surface three times, Bob laid down on the dock and finally was able to grab it and pull it up. But even after getting a better look, Bob still wasn’t aware of how rare his catch truly was.
“When I pulled it up, I thought, ‘Wow! This is a brook trout.’ Since it was a really nice-sized fish, I was concerned that it might be a lake record,” said Bob.
Bob met with Jim Hakala to weigh the fish and get more information on the suspected brook trout. However, when Jim got a look at it, he knew it was not a brook trout.
Brook trout have worm-like markings on their sides that end on a lateral line. Bob’s trout had worm-like markings all over, which told Jim that it was a tiger trout. The hybrid trout can occur naturally but are typically stocked. The tiger trout weighed 2.8 pounds, but Jim and Bob are still not sure how this rare breed made its way into Lake Allatoona.
“I’ve never heard of one being caught on Allatoona. Occasionally, we do hear of tiger trout being caught elsewhere, but this is a first for Allatoona,” said Jim.
The tiger trout would’ve been unable to survive the summer due to the habitat, according to Jim. So it’s a good thing Bob took this spur-of-the-moment fishing trip, or he might’ve missed out on this very rare opportunity.
“I don’t know how I came about it, but I got it,” said Bob.
GON will recognize the fish in their Georgia Lake and River Records list.