A Tennessee 10-year-old didn’t just set a new state record for cutthroat trout, he blew the old one out of the water with a 4-pound, 12-ounce fish that topped the standing mark by more than two pounds.
Palmer Tipton reeled in his trophy catch from the tailwaters of the Boone Dam, according to a July 27 Facebook post from the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency (TWRA). Boone Dam is located on the South Fork of the Holston River, which is where the prior state record, weighing 2 pounds, 8 ounces, was set by Daniel Scalf in October 2022.
That spot on the upper portion of the Fort Patrick Henry Reservoir is also where the department released 2,550 cutthroat trout in 2021 as part of a management plan to establish a put-and-take and put-and-grow trout fishery in two tailwaters along the Holston. Cutthroats were stocked in Tennessee tailwaters in the 1950s through the early 1960s, but the species never thrived due to poor water quality prior to the Clean Water Act.
The new stocking project is a partnership between the TWRA and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, which provides fine-spotted cutthroat trout strain eggs that are hatched and raised at the Dale Hollow National Fish Hatchery in Celina, Tennessee. In 2021 cutthroats were stocked in the Tims Ford Tailwater of the Elk River, the Appalachia Tailwater of the Hiawassee River, and the Boone and Fort Patrick Henry tailwaters on the Holston.
Boone Tailwater is the state’s smallest year-round trout fishing tailwater, and it is not well-known by anglers, despite holding some of the largest holdover rainbow trout in Tennessee—including, at one time, a state record. A significant number of brown trout can also be found in the area. Average trout size is 9 to 12 inches, but the tailwater “consistently produces both rainbows and browns over 22 inches, making this a great spot to catch a trophy fish,” according to the TWRA’s Trout Fishing Forecast. Clearly now cutthroat trout can be added to that list as well.