The new state record rainbow trout, caught Friday by 15-year-old John Morgan, weighed 18 pounds, 8 ounces and measured 32 inches long and 22 and one-quarter inches in girth.
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Polk County, Tenn., 15-year-old John Morgan holds his new state record rainbow trout.
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Tellico Hatchery manager Travis Scott, left, and Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency Officer Brandon Wear stand with John Morgan and his new state record rainbow trout.

When he set the hook last Friday, Polk County, Tenn., teen John Morgan III knew he had a big one on the line, but he didn't know he had a record-setting monster.

"I knew I had a big trout because I knew that's all [he] has in his pond," he said Wednesday. "I didn't think there would be one that would be a state record, but I knew there would be some big ones in there."

The 15-year-old Polk County High School sophomore landed Tennessee's record rainbow trout after a 20-minute battle at a farm pond belonging to a friend of his grandfather, John Morgan Sr.

It was his first time fishing the private pond, the teen said.

Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency officials confirmed the catch as a new state record at 18 pounds, 8 ounces. The monster measured 32 inches long and 22.25 inches in girth. The previous record, a 16-pound, 15-ounce fish, was set in 2002 by Ronnie Rowland at Fort Patrick Henry Reservoir, state records show.

"I was over there getting a snapping turtle," John Morgan III said Wednesday after a morning setting out catfish trot lines on the Hiwassee River with his grandfather.

After he reeled in the snapping turtle last Friday, the teen targeted the colorful finned creatures that would get him in the state record books. The bait was corn.

A 20-minute fight later, the fish and fisherman were famous.

The young angler fishes several days a week, said his mother, Tonya Morgan.

"He cooks everything he hunts and fishes himself. He fillets everything by hand," she said.

Her son has been a longtime sufferer of fishing 'fever,'" Tonya Morgan laughed. "He's an outdoor kid. I'm very excited for him."

The famed fish is at a taxidermist's shop now.

"I just love being outside, hunting and fishing," he said. His biggest fish to date was a 25-pound striped bass he caught in Hiwassee River.

State officials are happy for the young angler, too.

"We're very excited for this young man to find himself in the record book," TWRA Region 3 fisheries program manager Mark Thurman said.

"I'd like to get a big largemouth bass," young Morgan said, putting local members of that species on notice.

Contact staff writer Ben Benton at or on Twitter or on Facebook at or 423-757-6569.

Tennessee's record trout

Species - Weight - Location - Date

Brook - 4 lbs. 12 oz. - Caney Fork River - April 1, 2016

Brown - 28 lbs. 12 oz. - Clinch River - Aug. 30, 1988

Cutthroat - 6 oz. - Obey River (Dale Hollow Tailwater) -  June 1, 1969

*Rainbow - 16 lbs. 15 oz. - Fort Patrick Henry Reservoir - Sept. 6, 2002

Ohrid - 14 lbs. 5 oz. - Watauga Reservoir - March 28, 1986

Lake - 22 lbs. 2 oz. - Watauga Reservoir - July 3, 2008

*Previous record (Polk County’s John Morgan now holds the record)

For more information on state record fish in Tennessee visit at the TWRA’s website.

Source: Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency