They say records were made to be broken. Angler Bill Babler isn’t arguing with that.
Babler reeled in a state record-breaking brown trout last week, officially weighing 40 pounds, six ounces. It was less than two pounds shy of the world record brown trout, which was caught in New Zealand. And it’s the second time that state record was broken on Lake Taneycomo this year alone.
KSMU’s Jennifer Moore reached Babler by phone to ask him about his catch—and to hear his thoughts on why Lake Taneycomo keeps producing these trophy fish.
"I was fishing with really, really light line. The fish took it. And he made one or two pretty decent runs, and then he was pretty much done," Babler said.
That fish was a “triploid” brown trout, which genetically can’t reproduce—and biologists believe that may be tied to their massive size.
Officials from the Missouri Department of Conservation released a statement saying Babler's catch replaces the previous record set in February by an angler who reeled in a 34-pound, 10 ounce brown trout, also on Lake Taneycomo.
The series of record-breaking catches on Lake Taneycomo is catching the attention of anglers around the world, which local and state officials hope will bring more tourism.
Babler said the big fish live under the private resort docks on the lake.
"And those resort docks are constantly cleaning rainbow trout. Well, of course, that's a food source. And when they clean those trout, they throw the entrails and the carcasses in. And those fish simply sit in one spot and eat those," Babler said.
His prediction is that it's only a matter of time before a world record brown trout is caught on Lake Taneycomo.
"And it will be sooner than later," Babler said.
He said the response has been mostly positive, but he's also received some criticism because the fish ultimately died, he said. Babler works as a fishing guide, and he said his general practice is to catch-and-release whenever possible.
According to the MDC, Missouri has two categories for state-record fish: those caught using a pole-and-line, and fish brought in through alternative methods. The category of alternative methods includes: throwlines, trotlines, limb lines, bank lines, jug lines, spearfishing, snagging, snaring, gigging, grabbing, archery, and atlatl.
And Babler wanted to add: although he works as a fishing guide, he wasn’t working that day—he was out for what he called a "play day" with his best friend from high school.
He said he knew the moment he saw the fish it was either a state or a world record brown trout.