THE question isn’t whether the the ridiculously obese 44.3lb brown trout caught last October from New Zealand’s notorious Twizel Canals of world record size.
Rather should the means by which it arrived at that size disqualify it from world record status. The IGFA recently ratified the catch by Seumas Petrie, for a brown trout stretching the tape to 38.58 inches in length and 34 inches in girth.The new record, which took a jig on 6-pound-test line, replaced the previous world record, a 42-pound, 1-ounce brown trout pulled from the same canal in 2013.
There is a great article by Lynn Burkhead looking at the world record brown trout story in Hatches magazine
The controversy comes from NZ fish rearing operations in these canals, with leftover food falling from the fish farm cages, along with any dead carcasses and so on. NZ authorities in the wake of the 2013 record commenced to study the Canal ecology, and defend the record claims, pointing to fish farming has increased the forage fish populations and other ecological changes over natural rivers.
Throw in some well documented 2019 reports of a 54lb brown from the same canals and its clear New Zealand has established, unplanned or not, a world record factory. Those interested in such things will remember the rainbow trout records from Lake Diefenbaker in Canada.
Adam Konrad, caught a 43 pound rainbow to claim the world record in 2007 and two years later brother Sean landed a 48 pound fish. Both were triploid rainbows, a process by where the fish are rendered sterile in the hatchery, allowing the fish to grow larger and faster without the need to spawn.
Just like the NZ brown trout the IGFA chose to ignore the man-made heritage of the Canadian rainbows.
But drawing up limits to define what is a natural brown trout might be harder than you think. Take the three most notable captures on the Ozark tailwaters: Rip Collin’s 1992 world record of 40lb 4oz, Hugh Manley’s 1988 38lb 9oz Norfork record fish and Rick Osborn’s 2003 27-pound, 10-ounce brown, regarded as the largest fly caught brown in the US. All came downstream of Federal or State run fish hatcheries.