Explore the history
The World Record Brook Trout
2020 Land of Nipigon Adventure Guide:
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The Story of the world record brook trout
In 1915, Fort William (Thunderbay) physician Dr J.W. Cook took to fishing on July 21 with his fishing partners R.J. Barnes, Roy Neeland and J.A. Fyfe as well as numerous native guides. At around 6 PM while fishing in a pool below Rabbit Rapids, just down from Virgin Falls, Dr Cook hooked into a large Lake trout – or so he thought. After landing the giant fish, the local guides pointed out that the fish was indeed a Brook Trout – one of enormous stature.
The fishing party continued fishing, and on the following day, Dr. Cook hooked into two more large Brook Trout (on the same line with two hooks) at the same time.
A few days later the giant fish was weighed at the Orient Bay train station and its measurements recorded. The Giant Brook Trout came in at 14 pounds, 8 ounces, was 31.5 inches long with a depth of 11 inches (estimated girth of 23”). To this day this is still considered the world record brook trout. Although the original mount was destroyed in a fire at the Nipigon Museum, a few pictures do exist, and replicas can be seen at the Nipigon Museum.
The other two Brook Trout caught on the same line simultaneously weighed in at 5 pounds and 6 pounds, 8 Ounces respectively, this was to also be a world record – the largest Brook Trout double header.
A River in Decline
The fish caught in 1915 were at a time where the Nipigon River had been overfished for decades and populations had been significantly depleted.
Four dams built in the 1920’s to 50’s have forever changed the river by increasing the water depth over 100 feet, flooding 15 km of rapids, including the now famous Rabbit Rapids and Virgin Falls.
Although the river is changed, thanks to ongoing conservation efforts, the Brook Trout Giants are in fine form today. There is quite likely a record out there, but you don’t get that old and big without being smart.
Virgin Falls Circa 1880.
Skin mount of world record brook trout. Original was lost to fire, the remains can be seen at the Nipigon Museum.
14 pounds, 8 ounces, was 31.5 inches long with a depth of 11 inches (estimated girth of 23”)