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Big Rainbow Trout Beats But Can’t Break
Arkansas State Record

Arkansas Rainbow TroutNorfork, Arkansas - Levi Lenard’s not in the record books, but he can tell his friends he caught a rainbow trout that was bigger than the Arkansas state record.

Lenard, 11, was fishing catch-and-release Dry Run Creek Dec. 28 when a large rainbow attacked his white crystal bugger. Had it been weighed on certified scales, it almost certainly would have topped the state record of 19 pounds, 1 ounce. State regulations require that fish caught in Dry Run Creek be immediately released back into the water.

Stan Todd, an Arkansas Game and Fish Commission trout biologist based in Mountain Home, estimated the trout’s size from photographs - length 30-32 inches, girth 20-22 inches and weight “somewhere near 25 pounds, give or take a few.”

Levi has been catching fish since he was a toddler. He hooked this one with a fly rod strung with 3-pound-test tippet.

“It fought a lot and made big splashes,” he said. “When we first tried to put it in the net, it wouldn't fit and flopped out. We finally got it into the net headfirst. Then we pulled it onto the bank and took pictures and then I gave him a kiss and let him go. There were people on the bank cheering for me. My dad and grandpa have caught a lot of fish but never one as big as mine.”

Levi obviously enjoys the time on the water.

“Although we live in Burlington, Kansas, we typically make many trips down to Arkansas during the year,” said Lewis Lenard, Levi’s father. “I'm about four hours from the White River and I grew up in the Ozarks trout fishing as a youth, too. I was very impressed with the size and health of the fish we caught on this memorable trip. I caught rainbow, brook, brown, and cutthroat on the North Fork River. These fish put up an incredible fight regardless of their size and all fish had the most brilliant color I've ever seen.”

Levi also has done quite well during fishing trips to Arkansas.

“Last year my grandpa got me a fly rod for my birthday,” he said. “I have fished a lot on the White River. Last year we went to Bull Shoals (Lake) to fish after Christmas and this year we went to the North Fork River. One of the things that my dad got for me for Christmas was fly-fishing instruction. I caught several really nice rainbow, cutthroat and brown trout on the river.

“We like to go trout fishing in Arkansas because it’s beautiful on the rivers and we release a lot of fish so we can come back and catch them again.”

Dry Run Creek, which flows from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Norfork National Fish Hatchery in Baxter County, is specifically for anglers under 16 and handicapped anglers.

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