Record-breaking redbreast sunfish and tiger trout caught at New Creek Lake in February

SOUTH CHARLESTON, WV — Gov. Jim Justice announced today that the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (WVDNR) has reported two new state record fish catches at New Creek Lake in February — a redbreast sunfish and a tiger trout. The catches follow a record blue catfish caught in December 2023 on the Ohio River.

“These record-breaking catches show that West Virginia is truly a world-class fishing destination with opportunities as diverse as our fish populations,” Gov. Justice said. “It also proves that we go above and beyond when it comes to habitat protection, water quality improvement, conservation, and fishery management efforts. We will continue to take care of the amazing natural resources West Virginia has to offer, and I truly congratulate these anglers for setting new benchmarks that will inspire future generations.”

Record Redbreast Sunfish

Zach Adkins of Petersburg, W.Va., caught a record 9.29-inch, 9.1-ounce redbreast sunfish with a spoon on New Creek Lake (Dam 14) on Feb. 19. The sunfish was certified by WVDNR District 2 biologist Brandon Keplinger. In 2022, Adkins became the first angler to receive the WVDNR’s Master Angler Award.

Adkins’s record redbreast sunfish was the first caught after the WVDNR added the species to the state record list on Jan. 1, 2024. The agency also added redear, pumpkinseed, black crappie and redhorse to the list. Each species has a minimum length set by WVDNR fishery biologists that anglers must meet or surpass to qualify for a state record for the species.

Record Tiger Trout

Nathaniel Smith of Burlington, W.Va., caught a 26.73-inch, 11.98-pound tiger trout with a soft-plastic minnow and a 4-pound test line from the shoreline of New Creek Lake (Dam 14) on Feb. 24. Smith’s record tiger trout broke the weight record previously held by Mike Connolly, whose fish weighed 10.65 pounds and was 28.7 inches long. Connolly, who caught his fish in Krodel Lake in 2011, retains the record for length. Smith’s catch was confirmed by WVDNR District 2 biologists Drew Carter and Carly Fenstermacher.

“These records remind us of the importance of our ongoing efforts in habitat protection, water quality improvement and fishery management to ensure that our waters continue to produce record-breaking fish,” said WVDNR Director Brett McMillion. “We congratulate these anglers and thank them for exemplifying the passion and dedication that West Virginians have for the sport of fishing.”

To learn more about state fish record categories, check page 23 in the West Virginia Fishing Regulations Summary, available to download at To learn more about the Master Angler Program, see page 9.

All anglers 15 and older must have a West Virginia fishing license, which can be purchased online at Anglers are reminded that a trout stamp is required when fishing for trout. They are also encouraged to upgrade their fishing experience by opting for a physical license card when they purchase their 2024 fishing license.