Nantahala Lake gives up record-breaking fish

Nantahala Lake spawned two state fishing records within a week during the month of June.

Until now, the state record for a kokanee salmon was 3 pounds, 9 ounces, set in 2009 by Swannanoa resident Ashley Swann, but Fred Mix of Rainbow Springs broke that. He landed a 3-pound, 15-ounce fish with a homemade spinner, putting his own name in the record books. 

But five days later, Mills River resident Jeffery Todd Smith broke Mix’s record, reeling in a 4-pound, 1-ounce kokanee salmon. Smith said he’s been trolling the lake, which houses the only kokanee salmon in the state, for two years, hoping to break a record. On June 11, which was both his birthday and his day off work, Smith finally reached his goal after nearly nine hours of trolling. 

To earn an N.C. Freshwater Fish State Record, anglers must catch fish with a rod and reel or cane pole, have the fish weighed on a scale certified by the N.C. Department of Agriculture with one witness, have the fish certified by a fisheries biologist from the Commission and submit an application with a full, side-view photo of the fish. 

A list of North Carolina freshwater fish state records is available at

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