Two Trips, Two Rare Georgia Trout

A "golden trout" was followed two weeks later by an 8-lb. rainbow.

Daryl Kirby | July 2, 2020

His first two fishing trips in years resulted in two remarkable Georgia trout for a Cornelia man.

A couple of weeks ago John Howard finally got back to the water with a rod in his hand after taking almost five years off from fishing. John was sure glad his 17-year-old son Logan talked him into going—on that first trip he caught a rare golden trout while fishing a spot on the Middle Fork of the Broad River. Then on June 25 John and Logan went fishing again, this time on the Chattahoochee River near Helen, and John landed a huge 36-inch rainbow trout that weighed close to 8 pounds.

“I just hadn’t been fishing—just some things that went on that took me away from it,” John said. “Logan kept bugging me to go. He said, ‘We need to go fishing again, daddy.’ I used to take him all the time. And oh my goodness, these past two times been have shockers. Either one is a catch of a lifetime.”

The rainbow trout that John caught on Thursday, June 25 is a public-waters giant.

“I’ve never seen one that big, except at where they feed them at Mark of the Potter,” John said.

Mark of the Potter is a store on the Soque River near Clarkesville where fishing isn’t allowed, but customers feed the trout, including some huge fish.

“I sure never thought I’d catch one like that,” John said.

John Howard, of Cornelia, with his huge rainbow trout caught on corn and a spincast real while fishing the Chattahoochee River near Helen.

John said he caught the huge trout from a deep hole in the Chattahoochee River while fishing with a spincast rod and using corn as bait.

“It was like 5 or 6 feet in front of me where I noticed the way the water curved. I figured that was a deep hole, so I changed to a bigger hook and bigger sinker. When I dropped it in there, I wanted it to stay right there. I dropped it in there, and BAM! I thought I was hung up. Then it started moving—stumps don’t move upstream.

“I said to Logan, ‘I think I’ve got a monster!’ He said. ‘Oh my gosh daddy, you’ll never get one that big in.’ I just told him that when he gets to the bank, grab him by the gills so he doesn’t get away. My heart was beating so fast I couldn’t even think. He was yelling, ‘Oh my gosh daddy, oh my gosh.'”

John Howard was fishing the Middle Fork of the Broad River on June 12—his first time fishing in almost five years—when he caught this rare golden trout.

John caught his golden trout on the Middle Fork of the Broad River two weeks ago on a Friday evening on the stretch within Lake Russell WMA that gets stocked.

“We were fishing for trout. The sun had just gone down, we could still see, but it was getting dark. I said one more cast and we’re going, and that’s when I caught him. I said, ‘I’ve got something. It’s a good one.’ As I was bringing it in, Logan said, ‘He’s albino!’ I said, ‘Abinos are white with pink eyes.’ He said, ‘It’s yellow.’ When I got it in, it looked like the color of one of those lemon boa constrictors.”

A golden trout caught from Georgia waters is likely the product of hatchery-raised strain, known as West Virginia golden trout, that was first developed in the 1950s. It is a color mutation of a regular rainbow trout first developed using selective breeding at Petersburg Trout Hatchery in West Virginia. They are stocked on some pay-to-fish private stretches of Georgia trout water, but DNR doesn’t stock these golden rainbows, so they are uncommon on public streams.

Georgia Golden Trout Caught In 2016

John said these two fishing trips reminded him how special it is to get outdoors.

“Every time we go out, we see something—reminds you how important it is to just go. Like on our trip to the Chattahoochee before I caught the big trout, Logan was in this clump of grass. All of a sudden he hollered, ‘Something’s right here!’ He saw the grass move, and then he saw some brown fur. As I stepped up closer, it was a fawn.”

The two rare trout certainly made these past two trips special.

“I keep thinking, did I really catch that?” John said. “Catching those fish put fire back in me I’d been missing until Logan kept on at me about going fishing again. Man, I can’t thank Logan enough! Love both my boys so much.”

John Howard’s son Logan holds the huge rainbow trout John caught on June 25 while the pair were fishing the Chattahoochee River near Helen.


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