Raleigh County angler catches a new record golden rainbow trout

Raleigh County angler catches a new record golden rainbow trout
Benji Lilly of Beckley with the 9.72 pound golden rainbow trout caught at Little Beaver State Park Pond. PHOTO: Submitted

BECKLEY, W.Va. — The Division of Natural Resources trout fishing Gold Rush has produced a new state record fish.

Benji Lilly of Beckley caught a massive golden rainbow trout this week at the Little Beaver State Park pond in Raleigh County. The fish broke the state record for weight at 9.72 pounds. The fish measured 26.25 inches, but fell short of the length record. The length record remains 27.5 inches caught in 1987 at Stonecoal Lake by Gerald Estep.

“It was a pretty good fight. It took me about ten minutes to get him in. We were up on the walk at the park and my dad had to run to the truck and get a net because there was no way I could lift him up over the rail,” Lilly said in an interview for West Virginia Outdoors.

The fish broke the standing record for a golden rainbow trout of 9.31 pounds caught by Danny Crider in 1998 at Brushy Fork Lake.

Lilly was at the pond fishing with his dad and another friend when the big fish bit. There were a couple of other fishermen nearby, but otherwise they had most of the water to themselves.

“I caught him about three and a half hours after they stocked them,” he explained

Raleigh County angler catches a new record golden rainbow trout
The golden rainbow caught this week broke the weight record, but fell short of the length record.

The DNR has been stocking exclusively golden trout in the last two weeks in designated waters across the state. The stockings are part of their ongoing and popular fishing promotion called the Gold Rush. Lilly indicated he enjoy trying to catch them, but added they aren’t easy to catch.

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“I’ve got one mounted that weighed a little over seven pounds, but I caught him about 20 years ago,” Lilly said.

The record almost went unrecognized after Lilly had given the fish away. He had to go back on the deal after somebody got curious and put the fish on a scale.

“I just like to catch trout, I don’t eat them. I was giving it to a guy and somebody pulled up in a jeep and asked if he could weigh it. I figured it was a little over eight pounds. The guy weighed it and said, ‘That’s a state record.’ I had to ask the guy if I could keep the fish,” laughed Lilly.

As a gesture of gratitude, Lily said he and his dad are taking the man, whom he had never met until that day, fishing this weekend. Plus Lilly ended up giving him the record fish anyway now that the paperwork has been certified.

“I’m going to get a replica mount made so I gave him the fish. He’ll surely eat it,” Lilly said

It was already a pretty good day for Lilly. He indicated ahead of the record trout he caught another golden in the five pound range and lost another one about the same size.

He caught it while jigging a Berkley power worm on a 1/32nd ounce jig head.

The two week Gold Rush stockings end Saturday, April 8th.

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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>