Any avid fisherman would know that catching a rainbow trout in warm water is not common. There just aren’t any trout in middle Georgia, right? This being the reason why Troy Harrell and his son Michael, of Roberta, were shocked to reel one in from the Ocmulgee River near Lake Jackson.
Early Sunday morning on May 17, the two kayaked downriver a short way and started casting. They were fishing for anything that would bite and enjoying father-son time. With a cricket on the line of Michael’s Zebco 33, he hopped out of his kayak to stand on a rock outcrop that the pair was familiar with. In a previous outing, they had named this particular spot, “Party Rock."
In just a matter of minutes of casting from their favorite spot, Michael’s dad, Troy, got a bite and hooked up with a fish. After a slight struggle, the fish was loose again.
Michael continued casting while his dad hurried downriver to catch his paddle that slipped away while battling the fish. It wasn’t long before Michael got a bite, and he hooked with what they believe was the same fish his dad had on minutes before. Michael was able to keep the fish on the line, while waiting on his dad to come back and help him retrieve it. They were shocked to see it was trout.
The two were quick to snap pictures of their prize fish and then release it back into the river.
“I was really excited because it was the first time I’ve caught a real big fish from there,” said Michael, “I want to try and catch it again if I go back to the river.”
Estimated at 16- to 18-inches long, Michael had no idea how strange it was to catch a rainbow trout there.
A WRD fisheries biologist said the rainbow trout is not a species that occurs there naturally, but that someone possibly stocked it.
“Michael was very excited to have landed the fish,” said Troy. “We only fished for another 30 minutes before paddling our way back up to Lloyd Shoals boat ramp.”
Rainbow trout are a non-native species to Georgia that require flowing, cold water below 72 degrees. Because of this, trout are typically found in north Georgia where they are stocked. Rainbow trout must have a gravel bottom stream or river for spawning. Otherwise, flowing water will cause sand build-up on eggs that have been laid, which can lead to their suffocation.