Rare Rainbow Trout Caught On Lake Oconee

Mac McCutchin doesn't catch your everyday fish on Lake Oconee.

Simone Gibson | March 2, 2019

On Feb. 24, Mac McCutchin, of Greensboro, caught a rainbow trout from Lake Oconee that weighed 1 1/2 pounds and measured 15 inches long.

Mac was fishing off his dock hoping to catch some crappie.

“When I first got out there, I caught some crappie and a couple of catfish,” said Mac.

After two hours, Mac placed his fishing rod into a rodholder and walked to the side of his dock to throw out another rod.

“As I was preparing to cast, I saw the cork go under, and it came back up, so I twitched it hoping what it would bite down again,” said Mac.

Eventually, the fish bit down on the bait, and Mac began to reel it in. In the process of doing so, a boy from across the cove saw what was happening.

“The boy kept yelling, ‘You got one! You got one!’ and then he asked what it was,” said Mac.

When he first starting reeling in the fish, Mac could only see the white part of it and assumed it was a catfish.

“Then I noticed it wasn’t pulling like a catfish, so I figured it was big-sized crappie,” said Mac.

Soon he pulled a rainbow trout out of the waters of Lake Oconee.

“When I caught the fish, it really surprised me, and it caught me off guard,” said Mac.

After catching the fish, the boy from across the cove, Mac’s daughter and a nearby neighbor convened on the dock to check out the trout. Once pictures were taken and everyone had a good look at the fish, Mac placed the trout in a bucket of water.

Rainbow trout are not native to Lake Oconee—the summertime temperatures don’t allow these cold-water fish to survive. Mac called Capt. Stan Elrod from the Department of National Resources Law Enforcement Division to get more information about how was it that a rainbow trout found its way into Lake Oconee. Mac was told the 15-inch trout likely migrated up toward his dock from the dam, which has deeper, colder water that allowed the fish to live long enough to be 15 inches. Mac lives 7 or 8 miles from the dam. Mac learned that striper anglers purchase trout and bring them to Lake Oconee and use them for bait.

“More than likely a fisherman had used them for bait and just dumped them in the lake,” said Stan Elrod with DNR.

Luckily for Mac, he was close enough to the dam to catch a rainbow trout. Once he got all of the information and weighed his fish on hand-held scales, he was able to enjoy a good meal.

“My wife loves trout, so we filleted him and ate him,” said Mac.

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