CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- West Virginia has a new state-record rainbow-trout - one that raises a few uncomfortable questions.
Tony Corbin of Gerrardstown caught the 30.5-inch, 17.31-pound fish May 2 from a Berkeley County quarry pond. On May 20, Division of Natural Resources officials issued a news release confirming the trout's record status.
And the questions began.
The release said the fish had been caught "from a private pond." Within days, Bret Preston, the DNR's assistant chief in charge of fisheries had received what he called "a few critical comments from anglers."
"Some people don't think it's appropriate for us to recognize state record fish from private waters," he said.
Apparently the term "private waters" raised the possibility in critics' minds that the fish might have been purchased from a hatchery and stocked into someone's backyard pond specifically for the purpose of claiming a record.
That wasn't what happened. A MetroNews report on Corbin's catch revealed that the pond had been stocked several years earlier with trout and hybrid striped bass. Apparently the pond was deep enough, cold enough and rich enough in forage fish to grow at least one trout to record-breaking size.
From that standpoint, Corbin's catch appears legit.
The catch does, however, bring to mind some questions.
First, why do DNR officials award records for fish caught from private waters?
The short answer: Because they always have. The current state-record list contains five specimens caught from private lakes and ponds: bluegill, bowfin, common carp, grass carp and rainbow trout. And by the way, the previous state-record rainbow also came from private waters - a pond in Monroe County.